Artemis 1 mission: Engine leakage among snags that delayed launch, says NASA
Leakage was found at the quick disconnect on the 8-inch line utilised to supply and drain core stage liquid hydrogen.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Artemis 1 moon mission was postponed after the crew could not get the rocket’s engines to the proper temperature range required to start the engines at lift-off. NASA has informed that the mission management team will announce the further course of action on Tuesday 6 pm (i.e.,3:30 am Wednesday as per Indian time).
The countdown for the first attempt of the NASA Artemis 1 mission was put on hold at T-40 mins and later called off after the crew ‘ran off time’ in the two-hour launch window available on Monday. The mission, hailed as the first step in the next era of human exploration on the moon, was scheduled to take off at 6:03 pm on 29th August.
What went wrong ?
“The launch director called a scrub because of an engine bleed that couldn’t be stopped,” NASA informed the reason behind postponing the launch.
The four RS-25 engines of Artemis Mission’s Space Launch System must be thermally conditioned before super cold fuel starts flowing through them for lift-off.
To condition them to the required temperature, the Launch controllers intensify the pressure on the core stage liquid hydrogen tank to route (bleed) a portion of the almost minus 423 F liquid hydrogen to the engines.
Although the problem arose in one of the engines, NASA believes it is unlikely to come from a problem with the engine itself.
Hazardous fuel leakage
Apart from this issue, there were also other flaws detected during the launch. Leakage was found at the quick disconnect on the 8-inch line utilised to supply and drain core stage liquid hydrogen. There was also an outflow of hydrogen from a valve run to pour out the propellant from the core stage intertank, NASA stated.
Impact of thunderstorm
Earlier on the launch day, the site was hit by lightning and storms. The storms did delay the start of propellant loading operations, but lightning had no significant impact on the launch, as none of the strikes affected the SLS rocket itself.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, termed the mission very complicated and emphasised the need to be fully sure before launching. He said that he did ‘not want to light the candle until it’s ready to go’.