NASA Scrubs Artemis Launch Because of Engine Bleed

NASA scrubbed the Monday Artemis launch because of fuel leaks.

SLS has a stress crack.

UPDATE:NASA says the problem was due to an “engine bleed” issue. One of the four main engines could not be properly chilled ahead of its ignition.

If they do not have to send the SLS rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly building, then they have to fix and make it work for launch before September 5. Emptying the tanks to try to fix and then trying again would happen September 2nd at the earliest.

Hydrogen fuel leaks impacted NASA’s countdown test in April, resulting in numerous repairs. Another test in June had more success, but still experienced some leakage.

Monday, was the first full reloading of cryo fuel.

This will likely mean sending the rocket back for more repairs. This would mean October or later for the next try.

If the first Artemis test launch is successful it would send the Orion capsule with three dummies around the Moon. Astronauts would ride in the second flight and soar around the moon. The hope is to perform the second launch in 2024. A two-person lunar landing could happen by the end of 2025.

Thirteen secondary payloads will also come to the Moon on Artemis I. The payloads include small satellites that will study the lunar surface, measure magnetic fields in space, and assess the impact of space radiation. These satellites will launch in Orion’s stage adapter. Another four payloads will fly on Artemis I inside the Orion crew module, including a vest that could help astronauts avoid harmful space radiation in future deep space missions.

Artemis II
This mission is crewed and tests Orion’s life support systems with four astronauts aboard. Artemis II will demonstrate critical functions including mission planning, system performance, crew interfaces, and navigation and guidance beyond low Earth orbit. After launching, SLS will orbit the Earth twice, firing its engines to build up the speed to push it to the Moon. Artemis II will be a lunar flyby. It will not land on the lunar surface.

Artemis II mission would last about 21 days.

Artemis III
Artemis III is the second crewed mission of the program, and the first to land astronauts on the Moon. The crew will visit the Moon’s south pole to search for water, study its surface, test technologies, and learn to work on a world outside Earth.

After a multi-phase design effort, on 16 April 2021, NASA selected SpaceX to develop Starship HLS and deliver it to the Gateway orbit prior to arrival of the crew for use on the Artemis 3 mission. The delivery requires that Starship HLS be refueled in low Earth orbit (LEO) before boosting the NRHO, and this refueling requires a prepositioned propellant depot in LEO that is filled by multiple tanker flights. Two astronauts will transfer from Orion to Starship HLS, which will descend to the lunar surface and sustain them for several days before returning them to Orion.

Written by Brian Wang,

18 thoughts on “NASA Scrubs Artemis Launch Because of Engine Bleed”

  1. I hope SpaceX gets a Starship into orbit before the SLS goes up. I really, really do. I’m not rooting for NASA to have launch failures or to lose rockets: that’s my taxes at work (isn’t it?). I want everyone to succeed at getting their stuff into space.

    I just want SpaceX to get there first because I want private industry to seem viable in terms of interplanetary travel, and because I feel like the FAA is attempting to ground SpaceX until SLS can launch. I know that’s a popular conspiracy theory, but it still wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

    • There doesn’t have to be a conspiracy for it to be better for everyone if Starship launches first and SLS/Orion is canceled ASAP. Every dollar wasted on it could be spent advancing real space faring capabilities now that Starship exists. Every Engineer and technician working on it will find work in a new competitive Space industry not based on pork distribution and corporate welfare. SLS/Orion is painful waste of money and talent that needs to be killed as soon as possible.

      • Agreed. The SLS is a waste of just about everything. Time, space, money, brain power, etc. It’s not necessarily a horrible idea, but the implementation leaves much to be desired. And the reasoning (which seems to be to leave space to the government, but I’m biased).

  2. Still, with the disasters that Spacex is having everytie they are placing their new rocket on the launch pad, looks like NASA is going to fly people to the moon and perhaps also to Mars before SpaceX. What Spacex has built is fer less tested than NASA.

    • uh. SpaceX is building an entirely new architecture that has really never been tried before.
      NASA is literally using legacy hardware. Some of it actually old equipment.

    • Huh? Is this some kind of shill comment? I guess you mean that since SpaceX does real launches for testing and has inevitable failures they are somehow unsuccessful despite spending an order of magnitude less money than NASA and are on the verge of having a reusable launcher which obsoletes the boondoggle that is SLS. Oh yeah and they also were the first to (practically) reuse rocket boosters. After lots of “failures.” SLS should have been cancelled 5 or 10 years ago.

    • Yeah I’m pretty sure the stress crack in the insulation was not a launch stopper at all once they knew what it was.

      It was engine bleed that stopped the launch I thought.

      • Just to be clear, it wasn’t a show stopper once they decided that it was something that wouldn’t be a show stopper.

        Which might, realistically, be the real reason they decided it was a crack in the insulation.

  3. Does this mean that Starship might launch to orbit before SLS? I kinda have a conspiracy theory going that somehow all the delays in getting the full Starship duo off the ground was pressure by NASA not to launch till SLS does. Not that it will do them any good – even as political pork the SLS will be totally unsustainable when Starship launches happen monthly, then weekly and SLS will only launch once per year – if that.

      • Not sure why SpaceX doesn’t try to bypass that bureaucratic delaying by building another pad off-States. Going a few miles south past the border to Mexico, for example, or renting space at French Guyana (no scrubbing for bad weather), or Brazil.

        • Rockets are, legally, “munitions”, American rocket companies are under substantial export regulations. They’d need the federal government’s permission to do something like that.

          Though Musk probably could establish a NEW foreign rocket company.

          • Musk establishing a new foreign rocket company would face infinite tech transfer hurdles and land him in court for eternity.

  4. Let’s be blunt here: That it was just a crack in the insulation is the excuse they formulated for launching anyway, before they had to scrub for other reasons. They won’t know for sure that it’s true until they physically inspect it.

    It’s no different from the “It’s probably OK” that lead to the Columbia disaster.

    • Yep the validate to death approach. Check and re-check again and again, without knowing for certain if something is wrong or not. Until the fateful day when they have to launch and it unsurprisingly breaks.

      Because the rocket is so precious an unique, they can’t afford to lose any single one or the whole project goes off the rails and crashes. Because failure is so shameful, and the political enemies are so many.

      While the SpaceX approach until recently has been: launch the effin’ thing and see if it blows up. After that, we’ll learn to do it better. If not, well, we rock!

      The problem is they haven’t been allowed due to bureaucratic technicalities.

      That’s why I find amusing all the people that get offended when I suggest SpaceX is being actively blocked until SLS flies. “They are Artemis partners!” LOL, as if the bureaucrats and their masters cared in the least about lunar landings and making life multiplanetary.

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