NASA will hold on Saturday a second attempt to launch its new lunar rocket in a test flight, after an engine problem halted his first countdown this week.
Officials said Tuesday they are changing fueling procedures to fix the problem. A faulty sensor could also be responsible for Monday’s failed launchthey clarified.
The 98-meter rocket remains on its pad at the Kennedy Space Center with an empty crew capsule on top. It is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built.
The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will try to send the capsule around the Moon and back. There will be no people on board, just three test dummies. If successful, it will be the first capsule to fly to the Moon since NASA’s Apollo program 50 years ago.
During Monday’s launch attempt, one of the four main engines of the rocket’s core stage could not cool down sufficiently before the planned ignition moments before takeoff.
For Saturday’s launch attempt, the cool down operation will take place half an hour earlier.
John Honeycutt, NASA’s program manager for the rocket, said that during previous successful tests the rocket’s cooling process was carried out earlier, so moving it forward might work.
Honeycutt also questioned the integrity of an engine sensor, saying it may have provided inaccurate data on Monday. To change that sensor, it would have required taking the rocket back to the hangar, which would have resulted in a delay of several weeks.
$4.1 billion test flight is the first for NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, named after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology. The ship could carry astronauts on board in 2024 for a tour around the Moon and attempt a landing in 2025.