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NASA sets new date for second try at moon rocket launch

NASA has said it will make a second attempt at launching its next-generation moon rocket on Saturday, September 3.

The announcement follows a failed attempt to send the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket skyward on Monday after engineers discovered an issue with one of the engines shortly before liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA said it plans to launch the uncrewed Artemis I flight at 2:17 p.m. ET pm Saturday, September 3. The launch window will remain open until 4:17 p.m. ET in case the countdown needs to be paused at any point.

“We’re now targeting Saturday, September 3, for the launch of the #Artemis I flight test around the moon,” the agency said in a tweet posted on Tuesday. “The two-hour launch window opens at 2:17 p.m. ET (18:17 UTC).”

We're now targeting Saturday, Sept. 3 for the launch of the #Artemis I flight test around the Moon. The two-hour launch window opens at 2:17 p.m. ET (18:17 UTC).

— NASA (@NASA) August 30, 2022

There was much disappointment when NASA called off the launch on Monday, with huge crowds lined up along the Space Coast waiting to see the agency’s most powerful rocket to date blast to space, and many more watching online.

But the countdown clock was halted at the 40-minute mark when engineers spotted a problem with engine number three on the SLS rocket’s core stage.

Unable to resolve the issue in time, the team decided to stand down.

Later the same day, NASA chief Bill Nelson commented on the situation, saying: “There are certain guidelines, and I think it’s just illustrative that this is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all those things have to work.”

He added: “You don’t want to light the candle until it’s ready to go.”

The Artemis I mission will mark the beginning of a new era of space travel that NASA hopes will eventually lead to the first humans reaching Mars. This first mission, however, is designed to test the new SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. Once in space, the Orion capsule will fly around the moon, coming within 62 miles of the lunar surface, before returning to Earth in six weeks’ time.

Artemis II will fly the same path but with astronauts on board, while Artemis III, which could take place as early as 2025, aims to put the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.

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