NASA Engineers started fueling the Space Launch System rocket on Saturday about 6 a.m. EDT, preparing it for launch at 2:17 p.m., the start of a two-hour window, with a 60% probability of good weather.
But a hydrogen leak forced the cancellation of the Saturday launch. At 11:18 a.m. EDT, the decision was made public, just 25 minutes after the team suggested against launching.
Schedule And Planning Of Launch
Launch was originally planned for Monday morning, however NASA had to scrub just as the launch window was about to open due to fuelling issues.
There are 489 launch commit requirements for the SLS rocket, the most potent booster NASA and its contractors have ever constructed.
Mission manager Mike Sarafin told reporters at a news conference on Thursday night: “We’ve got a whole variety of factors that could lead us to not get off on any given day. “There is no guarantee that we will be able to go (Saturday). Nevertheless, we’ll come up, try, and put in our best effort.”
Hydrogen Leak Grounds Moon Rocket
After numerous unsuccessful attempts to stem a hydrogen leak in an 8-inch quick-disconnect fitting at the base of the SLS core stage, launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson cancelled today’s countdown. At 11:18 a.m. EDT, the decision was made public, just 25 minutes after the team suggested against launching.
It’s not yet known if any repairs will be completed or if any more launches can be attempted before the current window for lunar launches closes on September 6.
What’s Next Now
An attempt to launch on Sunday is still feasible. According to NASA managers, but only if propellants are not put onto the rocket. Both Monday and Tuesday are viable target dates, albeit Tuesday has a narrower range.
In any case, the SLS will need to be transported back to the Vehicle Assembly Building to service batteries in its self-destruct system if it isn’t launched by Tuesday. This requirement has nothing to do with the hydrogen leak.
The possible launch windows depend on the Orion spacecraft’s targeted lunar orbit. The capability of the SLS rocket to place it on the resulting trajectory. And the continually shifting positions of the Earth and moon. The following launch window will begin on September 19 and end on October 4. The following period begins on October 17 and lasts through Halloween.