NASA's next-generation moon rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) , sits on the pad as mission managers worked to overcome technical issues, at Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., August 29, 2022. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
The closely watched mission to send a rocket around the moon is at risk of delays as NASA grapples with multiple issues that have arisen in the hours before the launch.
The space agency is investigating problems including a possible temperature issue with one of the main engines, officials said early Monday. Those came after engineers examined and resolved a suspected leak affecting the hydrogen tanking process.
The issues raise the likelihood that the Artemis I launch from the Kennedy Space Center won’t take place at the scheduled time of 8:33 a.m. local time in Florida. If the uncrewed rocket doesn’t lift off by 10:33 a.m., it could be rescheduled several days later or potentially October.
While the planned 42-day mission is merely a test run for a later crewed flight, any delay would be a blow for the high-profile program. If all goes to plan, NASA aims to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon as early as 2025.
Artemis, named for the twin sister of the god Apollo in Greek mythology, marks the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program that NASA is debuting a flagship vehicle and system geared toward human spaceflight. Among the critical components of the mission are the Boeing Co.-built rocket, named the Space Launch System, and the Orion crew capsule made by Lockheed Martin Corp.