Nasa launch: Artemis 1 launched called off after engine problem

The long-awaited launch of Nasa’s Artemis 1 Moon rocket has been postponed due to a problem with one of the engines.

A liquid hydrogen leak had interrupted Nasa’s preparations for its new Moon rocket launch earlier on Monday, with the take-off now postponed.

The launch director "has called a scrub for the day" after an engine bleed that "couldn't be remedied".

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The space agency have since confirmed the launch has been cancelled.

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The space agency said: “Launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson has called a scrub of the attempt of the launch of Artemis 1.

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“The issue that came up was an engine bleed, which couldn’t be remedied, but the rocket is currently in a stable configuration.

“It was mostly tanked, but not completely tanked.

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Engineers are now working on a plan to continue gathering data about this particular engine and the bleed that didn’t work out.”

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Those behind the project said the first opportunity for the next launch attempt would be Friday, depending on how the engine bleed develops.

The agency’s administrator, Bill Nelson, said rocket launch delays were “just part of the space business”.

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Speaking on Nasa’s official channel from the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Mr Nelson said: “We don’t launch until it’s right and, in fact, they’ve got a problem with the gases going on the engine bleed on one engine.

NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B as preparations for launch continue at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on August 28, 2022
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“I think it’s just illustrative that this is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all those things have to work, and you don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to go.

“I have some personal experience in the crew that I participated in the 24th flight of the space shuttle. We scrubbed four times and the fifth try was a flawless mission.

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“We know had we launched on any one of those scrubs, it wouldn’t have been a good day.

“This is just part of the space business and it’s part of particularly a test flight. We are stressing and testing this rocket and a space craft in a way that you would never do it with a human crew on board, that’s the purpose of a test flight.”

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The Artemis 1 mission will see the first launch of the new 322ft tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which the agency says is the world’s most powerful to date.

It will take the Orion capsule, powered by the Airbus-built European Service Module (ESM), into the Moon’s orbit.

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The next windows will be on Friday and Monday next week.

Humans last reached the Moon some 50 years ago. The latest mission is about proving people can make longer and more sustainable trips there.

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It will also assess whether some infrastructure can be built on and around the Moon, allowing humans to survive on another planetary body.

The mission duration is 42 days, three hours and 20 minutes, and in total the rocket will travel 1.3 million miles.

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The UK is part of the Artemis programme, making contributions to the Lunar Gateway – a space station in development with the European Space Agency – working alongside the US, Europe, Canada and Japan.

The Artemis mission will be tracked in the UK from Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall.