Nasa stops launching to the moon for the second time after a hydrogen leak

Technical problems with fueling its massive new Moon rocket forced Nasa to halt its second test launch in less than a week.

US space agency engineers struggled for more than three hours on Saturday to stop a leak in a hydrogen line used to fill one of the containers on the rocket’s core, but abandoned the attempt more than two hours before the scheduled explosion-off.

The leak is the latest in a series of technical glitches that have delayed the launch of the first SLS rocket the US hopes to use to return astronauts to the moon by 2025.

A hydrogen fuel leak also forced the delay of Monday’s countdown first boot attempt, although it has been fixed in time to allow for the completion of the refueling. The launch was eventually postponed after a faulty sensor led to concerns that one of the main rocket’s four engines was not cooling as needed.

Ahead of Saturday’s second attempt, Nasa had warned it might need to abort the launch again if it ran into a series of similar minor issues that proved too difficult to deal with. during the two-hour launch period available.

Then on Saturday, Nasa ruled out a third launch attempt early next week and said it might not be ready to try again until the end of October. Officials said they would decide Monday or Thursday. Should three leave the rocket on the launch pad while trying to fix the leak or move it back to the hangar for further work.

Nasa engineers earlier this week described last-minute launch problems as a common problem with new rocket programs and said they had not discovered any serious engine flaws. rocket or fuel tank.

The launch is a big test for Boeing, the main contractor for the rocket, said that SLS was years behind and over budget by billions of dollars. A Nasa auditor estimated that a single missile test would cost $2.2 billion, with another $1.9 billion spent on the Orion capsule, ground systems and other operations.

The US has four rocket launches planned in the coming years as part of the Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 and lay the groundwork for a trip to Mars in the near future. future.

It has not committed to any subsequent launches, and many space experts believe the new rocket being developed by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos will soon provide a cheaper alternative to reaching the moon and further.

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