Space Launch System de la NASA

NASA, the American space agency, has been preparing the first mission of the Artemis program for some time. The main objective of this program is to return to the lunar surface and eventually maintain a more or less continuous human presence there. It is the spacecraft called “Orion” which will transport the astronauts during this mission. According to the explanations of the agency, Orion will be placed in a lunar orbit by the giant American rocket “Space Launch System” or SLS. Note that this will be his first flight.

The Artemis 1 mission will first uncrew the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule to ensure their ability to carry a crew safely for future missions. However, NASA had to postpone the launch of Artemis 1 several times due to technical issues. The latest is a fuel leak.


A fuel leak canceled the launch

A few hours before the scheduled launch last Saturday at 2:17 p.m. local time, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson gave the green light to begin filling the rocket’s tanks with its cryogenic fuel. This requires about three million liters of ultra-cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen. Everything seemed normal until a leak was detected at the foot of the rocket, a little over an hour after refueling.

The Kennedy Space Center ground crew tried every means to solve the problem but without success. He therefore recommended a “NO” for the launch. Subsequently, Jim Free, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development said, “We will not be launching during this launch period.” And the end of the current period is for September 6th.

How did the problem really manifest itself?

According to Sarafin, the leak began after one of the fuel lines to the main thruster of Artemis 1 suffered a brief and “inadvertent” overpressure. And an errant manual command from “Mission Control” triggered the incident.

This is only a hypothesis and Sarafin explained that it was too early to confirm it. But regardless, the agency is now forced to replace the non-metallic seal that is supposed to prevent hydrogen from escaping during the quick disconnect.


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