Scrubbed: NASA Delays Artemis 1 Launch Due to Engine Issue

The SLS megarocket was supposed to blast off Monday at 8:33 a.m. ET, but a pesky engine has complicated plans.

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SLS on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SLS on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Photo: NASA

Ground teams at Kennedy Space Center in Florida have detected an issue with one of four Space Launch System main engines, resulting in a scrub of today’s scheduled launch.

The unplanned hold began at 7:10 a.m. ET. Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson had been consulting with the team in anticipation of a troubleshooting plan and a way forward, but the decision was made to scrub today’s launch. No firm date has been set for the next launch attempt, but the next two-hour window opens at 12:48 p.m. ET on Friday September 2. Failing that, NASA can try again on Monday September 5 at 5:12 p.m. ET.

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Engineers were struggling to dial-in the temperature of core stage engine number three. Tanking of the engines began at 1:14 a.m. ET, but during the engine bleed, engineers found that the engine wasn’t reaching the desired temperature, according to Artemis Launch Control. This was something the teams were hoping to address during the last wet dress rehearsal but were unable to do so, meaning this has been the first opportunity for the teams to see this particular issue live in action. All that said, SLS and the Orion spacecraft “remain in a safe and stable configuration,” according to NASA.

Capable of generating 8.1 million pounds of thrust, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will be largest rocket to ever take flight. The rocket is a critical centerpiece to the upcoming Artemis era, in which NASA seeks a permanent return to the lunar environment. The first launch represents Artemis 1, a mission that aims to send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a 42-day journey to the Moon and back. For this flight, three manikins will ride in Orion to measure the stresses that real astronauts would face on the trip. You can learn more about the Artemis 1 mission here.

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It’s all in preparation for Artemis 3, in which NASA hopes to land a man and a woman on the lunar surface. This could take place as early as 2025. You can read all about the Artemis program here.