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NASA will launch Artemis rocket on Saturday

NASA’s Artemis team will take a second shot at a launch on Saturday after the first attempt on Monday was scrubbed.

Team leaders at a media briefing Tuesday said the two-hour launch window for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft will begin around 2:17 p.m. ET on Saturday. Weather for Saturday indicates some rainy weather but conditions favorable enough for the team to work with, according to NASA.

The launch team reviewed data from Monday’s launch and settled on a game plan to resolve several issues, including an engine that failed to cool down and led to the launch delay.

John Honeycutt, the manager for the SLS program, said he was confident in the Artemis team’s ability ahead of the second launch attempt.

“We’ve got a path forward,” he said. “We’re in the mode now of processing the data that we got and updating our approach prior to the next launch attempt. I’m confident where the team’s headed.”

If Saturday’s launch at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center is successful, the SLS will rocket into space and plummet back to Earth after shooting the unmanned Orion spacecraft on a six-week journey more than 40,000 miles past the moon.

Through the Artemis program, NASA is trying to send astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972. Saturday’s launch, if successful, will be the first in a series of tests that will lead to NASA putting astronauts on Orion and landing them on the south pole of the moon sometime in 2025 or 2026.

Monday’s highly anticipated launch faced a number of issues, including lightning strikes near the launch pad in the days leading up, uncertain weather in the two-hour launch window and a hydrogen leak.

NASA ultimately called the launch off after the SLS’s third engine failed to fall to the correct temperature. Launch controllers condition engines by increasing pressure on stage tanks in order to bleed some cryogenic propellant and get them to a proper temperature range for startup.

On Monday, the team was unable to determine what exactly went wrong. NASA officials said Tuesday they believe there could have been a faulty sensor that indicated the engine was not chilling when the hydrogen was flowing properly.

As part of the solution they drafted, the Artemis team created some redesigns and on Saturday will begin the engine bleed earlier with the rocket’s four engines set at an ambient temperature.

Mike Sarafin, the mission manager for Artemis, said the launch team discussed other options besides launching on Saturday, including additional testing. They decided the adjustments to the SLS could be fixed at the pad and in time for a weekend launch.

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