US space agency Nasa will proceed with another attempt to launch its Artemis Moon rocket on Saturday, after its first try on August 29 failed owing to what engineers believed was a rocket engine cooling problem.
One of the four RS-25 core engines on the Space Launch System (SLS) did not properly "bleed" during the countdown — when liquid hydrogen flows through the engines to cool them down for a launch.
During an online media briefing on Thursday, the team said a faulty sensor had shown incorrect readings and the engines could reach the desired temperatures.
The Artemis 1 mission is an uncrewed test flight around the Moon that will allow engineers to measure the performance of SLS and the Orion spacecraft. This will help pave the way for future crewed missions under the Artemis programme.
John Blevins, chief engineer of the SLS, said they were proceeding with another launch attempt from Florida's Kennedy Space Centre.
“We had some sensors that didn't tell us what we thought we would do, and we did the right thing by standing down with that uncertainty on Monday,” he said.
“But we have confirmed that we did have good flow through those engines. We know we can chill those engines. We’re ready to proceed that way to launch.”
A two-hour launch window opens at 10.17pm Gulf Standard Time and the weather is about 60 per cent favourable for a lift-off.
There is also a back-up date on September 5, with the weather at 70 per cent favourable.
Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said that they would try their best on Saturday.
“We are again proceeding into our Saturday launch attempt. We're comfortable with our risk posture,” he said.
“That said — there’s no guarantee that we're going to get off on Saturday, but we're going to try.
“The technical teams have put in a tremendous amount of work in a very short amount of time to get us here.”