NASA Postpones Artemis Launch for Second Time After Fuel Leak

NASA was expected to make a second attempt to launch the Artemis I moon rocket on Saturday after they were forced to scrub the initial launch on August 29 due to an engine issue.

However, the planned launch will not now take place on Saturday as a result of a fuel leak.

"The #Artemis I mission to the Moon has been postponed. Teams attempted to fix an issue related to a leak in the hardware transferring fuel into the rocket, but were unsuccessful," NASA's official Twitter account announced.

There is another launch window on Monday.

The 322-foot-tall Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft were due to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida in a historic mission.

Though Orion is unmanned, the mission is part of NASA's plans to establish a sustainable presence on the lunar surface and manned flights along a similar trajectory to Orion's are planned for 2024.

The launch was scheduled between 2.17 p.m. and 4.17 p.m. ET and NASA was set to provide live coverage of the event, beginning with a pre-launch media briefing at 9 a.m.

That briefing could be viewed at NASA's website, on NASA TV and on the agency's app.

Live coverage of the launch with commentary was to begin at 5.45 a.m. ET and was initially covering tanking operations for the Artemis I launch. At 12.15 p.m. ET full launch coverage in English was set begin and be available on NASA TV as well as the agency's YouTube channel, while coverage in Spanish will begin at 1 p.m. ET and would be available at NASA's dedicated YouTube channel.

The SLS moon rocket is the most powerful rocket ever built and the Orion spacecraft the rocket will carry is expected to travel 40,000 miles beyond the moon, going further than any spacecraft ever built to carry humans.

NASA weather officer Melody Lovin said at a press briefing on Friday that there will be 60 percent favorable weather conditions on Saturday, rising as high as 80 percent toward the end of the launch window.

If the launch had been successful, then NASA had planned to share the first views of Earth from cameras on Orion later on Saturday and it is hoped that the Virtual Telescope Project will be able to send live views of Orion's journey shortly after launch.

Last week's launch attempt had to be scrubbed when an engine issue was discovered, but NASA had planned for that contingency and two other launch windows were available.

"We don't launch until it's right," NASA Administration Bill Nelson said on August 29. "And in fact they've got a problem with the gases going on, the engine bleed on one engine."

"I think it's illustrative that this is a very complicated machine, a very complicated system, and all those things have to work and you don't want to light the candle until it's ready to go," he said.

Artemis I is seen as important not just for human exploration of the moon but also for future manned missions to the planet Mars and comes at a time of fierce competition to reach the red planet between the U.S. and China.

Update 09/03/22 11.34 a.m. ET: This article was updated to note that the Artemis I launch was postponed and to change the headline.

Artemis I Sits on a Launch Pad
NASA's Artemis I rocket sits on launch pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center on September 02, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA will make a second attempt to launch the rocket on Saturday. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images