After the first failed attempt to launch NASA SLS for the first time for the Artemis I mission on August 29, there appears to be good prospects for the second attempt in early September. After postponing the launch from September 2 to 3, preparations were underway when the agency once again had to shut down operations to resolve an issue.
The good news this time is that it is not the Space Launch System rocket or the Orion capsule that caused the final block of the launch attempt but rather a refueling structure (according to what emerged from the first investigations on the incident). However, this means postponing the launch of Artemis I at least until the end of September or even the end of October. Bill Nelson (NASA administrator) has however confirmed that, despite the postponement, the agency intends to launch the Artemis II mission in 2024 while the Artemis III moon landing is still expected in 2025. However, these are provisional estimates that could be revised in the future (and almost certainly will be).
NASA SLS launch for Artemis I postponed for a few weeks
During the conference that was held yesterday evening, after the announcement of the postponement of the launch by the space agency, the first information on what happened was given. The executives present however stated that the analyzes are still in progress and therefore more details will be released shortly. The situation is therefore evolving both as regards the examination of the problems and the timing of the launch of Artemis I.
While some of the problems that plagued NASA SLS seem to always involve the same component, in reality they are different parts. In the last launch attempt yesterday evening (Italian time) it was a leak of liquid hydrogen from a quick release fitting that feeds the central stadium. Despite the attempts of the ground crews (from repositioning the fitting to using helium under pressure after closing a valve or heating and cooling the section), it was not possible to re-seal the fitting, thus leading to the premature end of operations.