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NASA scrubs Monday’s launch of its mega moon rocket

The beginning of a new era of space exploration will have to wait after an engine issue prompted NASA to scrub Monday’s launch of its next-generation moon rocket.

Preparations in the hours leading up to the planned 8:33 a.m. ET launch of NASA’s uncrewed SLS rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida had been going well. But 70 minutes from lift-off, NASA stopped the countdown clock as it tried to resolve an issue with engine number three on the rocket’s core stage.

The launch window remained open until 10:33 a.m. ET, but at 8:37 a.m. ET the space agency decided it didn’t have enough time to properly address the situation and so announced it was scrubbing Monday’s launch attempt.

The launch of #Artemis I is no longer happening today as teams work through an issue with an engine bleed. Teams will continue to gather data, and we will keep you posted on the timing of the next launch attempt.

— NASA (@NASA) August 29, 2022

The next launch window for the Artemis I mission opens on Friday, September 2, though NASA will only proceed if it’s able to resolve the engine issue by then.

The decision to halt Monday’s countdown will come as a major disappointment to the huge crowds that traveled to Florida’s Space Coast to witness what would have been the launch of NASA’s most powerful rocket to date. Millions watching online and on TV will also have to wait longer than expected to see the launch.

The mission, when it gets underway, will test the new SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft in a mission to the moon. The Orion won’t land on the lunar surface, but instead will fly around the celestial body before heading back to Earth in a mission lasting six weeks.

A successful mission, in which all of the technology performs as expected, will set NASA on course for a crewed flight taking the same route around the moon, possibly in 2024. And then, a year later, NASA will attempt the first crewed lunar landing in five decades, putting the first woman and first person of color on the surface of the moon.

NASA’s Artemis program could also see humans build a moon base for long-duration stays, with knowledge picked up from the lunar missions used for the first crewed missions to Mars, possibly in the late 2030s.

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