Nasa is going to try and head back to the Moon – again.
The space agency will launch its Space Launch System rocket as part of the Artemis programme that one day hopes to put humans back onto the lunar surface.
But first it must contend with the technical problems that caused the initial launch, on Monday, to be postponed.
The space agency now hopes that those issues are fixed and that it will be able to launch the rocket in a new two-hour launch window that opens at 2.15pm local eastern time, or 7.15pm in the UK, on Saturday.
If successful, the spacecraft will launch off Earth and around the Moon, before heading back down to our planet 42 days later. This time, the Orion crew capsule is empty – but if this journey is successful, then a trip with humans on board is to come.
Leaking seal appears to have fixed itself
As engineers had hoped, the leaking seal appears to have sealed itself: hydrogen is flowing again. Engineers had hoped that warming it up would force it back in properly, and that seems to have happened.
It’s not clear yet what that will have on the launch window.
Andrew Griffin3 September 2022 13:32
Moon rocket could explode without care
While we’re waiting for updates, it’s worth revisiting this piece from Jon Kelvey – what’s at stake when Nasa “scrubs” a launch, and what might happen if it didn’t? (Spoiler: a lot.)
Andrew Griffin3 September 2022 12:50
Problem is similar to one that ended launch last time
On Monday, the launch was pulled because of a hydrogen leak. Now there appears to be another one.
This is coming from a different place – the quick disconnect at the heart of this problem has been fine in all the previous fillings of the rocket.
Andrew Griffin3 September 2022 12:47
Artemis launch hit by first big problem
The countdown clock just started, but there’s already an issue, as engineers take a look at a liquid hydrogen leak that has appeared as the rocket has started being filled up. Here’s the latest update from Nasa:
“Engineers detected a liquid hydrogen leak in a quick disconnect cavity and have stopped flowing the propellant to the core stage while they troubleshoot. Launch controllers are attempting to warm up the quick disconnect to attempt to reseat it to get a tight seal. Liquid oxygen flow is continuing.”
In short, that means that there’s a leak in one of the attachments, and engineers are now trying to work out whether they can fix it. The quick disconnect will take 30 minutes to warm up and it might reseat and seal the leak then.
Andrew Griffin3 September 2022 12:32
Weather still looking OK
The weather isn’t great in Florida this morning. (But it’s good enough to start filling up the rocket, which has now begun.)
But things are still looking good for later. There’s a 60% chance of favourable conditions when the window opens, which goes up to 80% by the end of the launch window.
Andrew Griffin3 September 2022 11:41
Weather looks favourable – mostly
The weather does not look likely to ruin today’s launch. The chances aren’t great – but they are favourable, overall.
You can read about Nasa’s weather forecast here.
Andrew Griffin3 September 2022 11:12
Nasa has said today’s launch is a “go”. That doesn’t mean we’ll definitely get one – any kind of technical or weather problems could still lead to it being scrubbed – but everything is progressing as it should be, for now.
Andrew Griffin3 September 2022 11:11
Hello and welcome…
… to The Independent’s live coverage of Nasa’s Artemis launch.
It’s the second time it will try and head back to the Moon, after major technical problems postponed a planned launch on Monday.
Andrew Griffin3 September 2022 10:13