WASHINGTON: NASA has yet again delayed its Artemis 1 moon rocket launch and now the US space agency is planning it for August, the media reported.
Artemis 1, was earlier scheduled to launch in late May 2022. However, due to multiple delays in its wet dress rehearsal, touted as the final test, the mega moon rocket has been pushed further.
NASA now plans to take its final test in June, and if all goes according to plan it could set the stage for its first launch in August, Space.com reported.
The Artemis 1 stack, a huge Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with an Orion crew capsule on top, rolled out to Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida in mid-March for its "wet dress rehearsal", a crucial series of tests that includes fueling up the SLS.
Although the wet dress began on April 1 and was supposed to wrap up two days later, the team encountered several problems, including a stuck valve on the mission's mobile launch tower and a hydrogen leak in one of the "umbilical" lines connecting the tower to the SLS. This led to delay and ultimately a halt after three fueling attempts.
On April 25, team members rolled the Artemis 1 stack off Pad 39B back to KSC's cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to investigate the problems and make the necessary fixes, NASA officials were quoted as saying last week, adding that the probe of the faulty valve continues.
However, even as the probe continues, the team remains optimistic for another wet dress try.
"We're looking right now at that next wet dress in the early to mid-June timeframe," Jim Free, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington, was quoted as saying.
For this the teams would have to roll out the SLS and Orion from the VAB by late May because the Artemis 1 team needs 12 to 14 days to prepare for the wet dress test, Free added.
Free was confident that the fourth attempt would prove to be a success, but he acknowledged that "it may take more than one attempt to get the procedures where we need them".
While NASA won't set a target launch date for Artemis 1 until the wet dress is complete, Free mentioned August as the likely earliest available time frame at this point.