A liquid hydrogen leak prompted NASA to delay its launch.
NASA had originally planned to send Artemis I, its moon-bound space capsule, on Monday. The capsule would mark the first step in a plan to establish a long-term presence on the moon in order to conduct further research and perhaps stimulate economic development.
The launch on Monday, however, never came to be. A number of issues cropped up as the agency prepared to send Artemis I into space. One of its four engines didn’t cool down enough before the launch, there were delays in filling the the rocket with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, and there was a hydrogen leak. “The combination of not being able to get engine three to reach chill down and then the vent valve issue that they saw at the inner tank really caused us to pause today and we felt like we needed a little more time,” said Mike Sarafin, the Artemis mission manager.
NASA then assured reporters that the leak had been resolved, and rescheduled the launch for Saturday. But on Saturday, it quickly became clear that the hydrogen leak had not in fact been fixed, as engineers spotted several leaks before lift off. Troubleshooting efforts were unable to resolve the issue.
Initially, engineers believed they could solve the leak when they saw it on Saturday, but as the tank continued to be filled, more and more leaks were discovered. Finally, the launch director officially called off the launch.
NASA said that its engineers will continue to gather more data about the failure. The agency has not yet announced when another launch attempt will be made.