After months of tests, troubleshooting and repairs, engineers fueled the Space Launch System moon rocket for blastoff Monday on NASA’s long-overdue Artemis 1 test flight — a mission to send an unpiloted Orion crew capsule on a 42-day mission beyond the moon and back.
But after working through a weather delay and a brief indication of a hydrogen leak, trouble cooling one of the rocket’s main engines forced managers to call off the countdown.
“We don’t launch until it’s right,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “I think it’s illustrative that this is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all those things have to work. You don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to go.”
It was a frustrating disappointment for more than 25,000 NASA workers, dignitaries and other guests gathered at the Kennedy Space Center to witness the historic launching, and for thousands of area residents and tourists lining area roads and beaches.
The next launch opportunity, assuming the problems encountered Monday can be resolved in time and assuming an additional fueling test is not required, is at 12:48 p.m. Friday, September 2.