Lhe final preparations for NASA’s new mega-rocket for the Moon were delayed on Saturday due to a fuel leak, detected a few hours before takeoff of this test mission which is to launch the Artemis program for the return of the Americans to the moon.
The orange and white SLS rocket, which will be the first flight from launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is the most powerful in the world.
Takeoff is scheduled for 2:17 p.m. local time (8:17 p.m. Belgian time), with a possible delay of up to two hours. Weather conditions are 60% favorable at the start of this shooting window, then gradually improve to 80%.
New technical problem
Shortly before 6 a.m. local time, launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson gave the go-ahead to begin filling the rocket’s tanks with its cryogenic fuel – a total of around three million liters of hydrogen and oxygen. ultra-cold liquids.
But a little over an hour later, a leak was detected at the foot of the rocket, at the level of the pipe through which the hydrogen passes to the tank. The flow was stopped while the teams searched for a solution. NASA did not immediately say how much this issue might or might not affect takeoff time.
Risk of another failure
Monday, during a first attempt, the launch had been canceled at the last moment because of technical problems, in particular on the cooling of the engines.
In the event of a new impediment on Saturday, take-off could possibly be rescheduled for Monday or Tuesday. It would then be necessary to wait until September 19 at the earliest, because of the positions of the Earth and the Moon.