Cape Canaveral (AP) – The US space agency Nasa has canceled the start of an unmanned moon mission for Monday. “The launch of Artemis I will no longer take place today. The teams are working on an issue with an engine leak,” Nasa said on Monday, a few minutes after the start of the two-hour window for the launch. “We won’t start until everything is right,” Nasa boss Bill Nelson said shortly afterwards. “This is a very complicated system and all things have to be right.” His own “Space Shuttle” mission has also been postponed four times.
The “Space Launch System” rocket and the “Orion” spacecraft capsule are still in a safe and stable condition, said NASA. Launch controllers are now investigating why an engine did not reach the required temperature before launch. The resulting delay meant that it was no longer possible to take off within the time window determined by gravity and the necessary acceleration.
In July, NASA had named September 2nd and September 5th as other possible start dates. However, it is still unclear whether the problems that have arisen can be resolved by then. “It’s a shift, but it’s definitely going to continue,” said German astronaut Matthias Maurer in a special broadcast on Phoenix.
The unmanned test flight “Artemis I”, which lasts around 40 days, is intended to herald the return to manned flights to the moon. NASA wants to send people there again with its “Artemis II” mission at the earliest in 2025, including a woman and a non-white person for the first time. Problems had already arisen with earlier tests and the original schedule had been delayed.
“Every detail has to work,” Maurer said. “You have built in and planned certain reserves and redundancies, but of course you don’t want to gamble them away before the start.” Astronaut Alexander Gerst added with a view to “Artemis I”: “This is the last test. People should fly with the next one. And of course you don’t want to take any risks.”
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