The takeoff of NASA’s new mega-rocket to the Moon cannot be attempted again at the beginning of September, after its cancellation at the last moment on Saturday for the second time in a week, a setback which postpones the effective launch of the American program of back to the Moon, Artemis.
“It’s a whole new vehicle, a new technology, a whole new goal — to return to the Moon to prepare for a trip to Mars — and yes, it is difficult,” the boss told a press conference. from NASA, Bill Nelson.
After a first failed attempt on Monday due to technical problems, the takeoff of the first Artemis 1 test mission, without an astronaut on board, was this time scheduled for Saturday at 2:17 p.m. local time (6:17 p.m. GMT), from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
But the NASA teams failed to solve a fuel leak problem, which started in the early morning, during the filling operations of the rocket tanks. This leak of ultra-cold liquid hydrogen was described as “big” by Mike Sarafin, in charge of the mission at NASA.
The “primary suspect”, he explained, is a “seal” that surrounds a piece that connects the pipe through which the fuel passes and the rocket — a component designed to break off ultra-quickly just as the rocket is fired. lift-off.
The teams think they have to replace this seal, either on the launch pad directly, or by bringing the rocket back to its assembly building, a few kilometers away.