Nasa announced Tuesday that it would attempt to launch its new mega rocket to the Moon on Saturday, after a first failed attempt on Monday due to a technical problem.
“We have agreed to change our launch date to Saturday, September 3,” Mike Sarafin, in charge of the Artemis 1 mission at Nasa, which is to mark the beginning of the U.S. program to return to the Moon, said at a news conference.
A weather official said he was “optimistic” about the weather Saturday, although the likelihood of unfavorable conditions during the two-hour launch window, which begins at 2:17 p.m. local time, is “high.”
The rocket’s launch had been canceled at the last minute Monday because of a cooling problem with one of the four main engines under the main stage. These RS-25 engines must be cooled not to undergo a shock with the ultra-cold fuel when they are ignited. But one of them could not reach the desired temperature.
This temperature is reached by letting escape a small part of the cryogenic fuel on the engines. Nasa teams suspect a problem related to possibly faulty “sensors”, said John Honeycutt, in charge of the rocket program. Nasa also plans to begin cooling the engines earlier in the countdown.
A leakage problem when filling the fuel tanks had also been observed on Monday, and although it could be overcome, Nasa teams will work to fix it by Saturday.
The Artemis 1 mission is scheduled to propel the unmanned Orion capsule into orbit around the moon to verify that the vehicle is safe for future astronauts including the first woman and the first person of color to walk on the lunar surface.