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NASA postpones launch of SLS rocket for a second time



Troubled project is meant to prove the US leadership



05.Sep.22 8:21 AM
By Abigail Richards
Photo NASA

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NASA postpones launch of SLS rocket for a second time
NASA has postponed the launch of the new SLS rocket for a second time. A leak was identified around a coupling piece that should help liquid hydrogen from the ground installation into the rocket. As a result, NASA no longer expects a launch of the SLS rocket in early September.

NASA said some of its engineers had noticed the leak and that three attempts had been made to fix it. None of those attempts proved successful. The U.S. space agency also determined that an unintended command was sent during an early phase of the liquid hydrogen transfer procedure to the SLS rocket. That command has increased the pressure in the rocket's propulsion system. It is not clear whether this caused the leak to the coupling piece.

The space agency wants to check in the coming days whether the leak can be repaired on site or whether the SLS rocket must be brought back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for that. According to NASA, the entire probe must be taken back to that manufacturing Hall anyway, because the internal batteries have to be reset. Given the complexity of the problem, the space agency is refraining from another launch attempt in early September. The next time the moon and earth are in an optimal orbit will be on Monday, September 19. NASA has not officially announced a new launch date yet.

This is the second time NASA has delayed the launch of the SLS rocket. At the end of August, a first attempt to launch the rocket took place, but then NASA found that one of the four engines of the nuclear stage did not cool enough. Also then there was a leak with liquid hydrogen.

The Space Launch System is NASA's own lunar rocket that has been in development since 2010 and was initially intended to be the successor to the Space Shuttle that was decommissioned in 2011. Since then, SLS has been given a different purpose several times. The Space Launch System should become the rocket system with which NASA will carry out the Artemis lunar program since 2018. Artemis will also bring humans to the moon. The Artemis-1 flight is an unmanned flight, but from 2024, during the Artemis II mission, astronauts will also board it. In 2025, an Artemis III flight will follow, with which people should land on the lunar surface.

The Artemis lunar program already had a lot of problems. As a result, the cost of the program increased significantly.



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