NASA is going for take two.
On Monday, the space agency was unable to launch its rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) with its Orion spacecraft for Artemis I — an uncrewed mission around the moon.
But today, they try again.
The space agency came up against several issues on Monday. First, it was a delay in loading the propellants into the SLS due to nearby lightning, which was a roughly 40-minute hold. Then, once they were able to start, there was an issue with the rate at which the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen were loading, which meant another brief hold.
NASA then encountered another issue with a helium leak. They had run into this previously on their wet dress rehearsals, which involve a sort of mock launch, going through all the steps of a real attempt without actually lifting off.
What ultimately did in Monday’s launch attempt was an issue with one of the rocket’s RS-25 engines. Engine three showed that it had not cooled properly, and — due to all the other holds — they ran out of time and had to scrub the launch.
Today will provide NASA with a second chance to launch the Artemis I mission.
“Right now we’re on track for a 2:17 pm launch. We have a two-hour window,” Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager at the Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Ground Systems told media on Friday.
“And right now the team has really done a fantastic job getting us out of launch attempt number one, repairing all the issues and getting us into a safe configuration for tomorrow’s launch attempt.”
Weather is the wildcard
The past week has brought a lot of scattered thunderstorms across the Space Coast.
Weather officer Melody Lovin said there is a 60 per cent chance of favourable weather when the launch window opens. That increases to 80 per cent closer to the end of the window, and she said she’s optimistic.
They will reevaluate the weather criteria for today’s launch three hours before the 2:17 p.m. ET window opens.
If NASA is unable to launch today, the next opportunity is Monday, with a 90-minute window opening at 5:12 p.m.
The weather favourability for that window is 70 per cent, however, Lovin said there is more uncertainty with that forecast.
“I do not expect weather to be a show-stopper by any means for either launch window,” she said.