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Artemis I launch postponed due to fuel leak and engine issue

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Monday, August 29, 2022, was supposed to mark the date of the long-anticipated launch of the Artemis I super rocket. Unfortunately, the event turned out to be a dud.

As the final liftoff preparations were being made at Cape Canaveral, Florida, a fuel leak and an issue in one of the four engines were detected. The spacecraft’s maiden voyage is now scheduled to take place on Friday, September 2, at the earliest.

On Monday morning, NASA technicians halted the launch and started refueling the rocket. This entailed pumping nearly a million gallons of extremely cold hydrogen and oxygen. The disruption was caused due to a leak of the highly combustible hydrogen. The incident occurred at the same place which experienced seepage during a fueling rehearsal this spring.

A new problem arose when NASA could not sufficiently cool one of the main engines. A crack in the thermal protection material was also found. Specialists continued to determine the source of the engine temperature issue after the postponement of the launch was announced.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called the spacecraft a “very complicated machine” and further commented, “You don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to go.”

Named after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology, the Artemis is the most powerful rocket that NASA has ever built. The 322-foot spacecraft was due to take off with three test dummies and launch a crew capsule dubbed Orion in the orbit around the Earth’s moon. The mission was planned to span over six weeks, with the capsule splashing down in the Pacific Ocean in October.

When the launch does take place, it will be the first flight for the NASA Artemis project. This endeavor picks up where the Apollo program ended. The Artemis I mission is to prove that the mammoth rocket and its space capsule can deliver promised results. If the initial flight goes well, astronauts will board the rocket to fly around the moon as soon as 2024. A two-person lunar landing could mark the end of 2025.

The last individuals to walk on the moon were Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt on December 11, 1972.

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