NASA will launch its Artemis I rocket to the moon, but not today.
The space agency's largest-ever rocket was sitting on the launch pad and about 40 minutes from takeoff when officials paused and ultimately scrubbed the launch Monday morning due to technical issues.
They say an "engine bleed" involving the rocket's fuel supply ruined their plans, and they chose not to take their chances with the multi-billion-dollar rocket — especially if there was any risk that it might blow up.
However, officials said after scrubbing the launch that the rocket was "stable" and that they would leave it in place to run a few tests before packing up for the day.
\u201cThe launch of #Artemis I is no longer happening today as teams work through an issue with an engine bleed. Teams will continue to gather data, and we will keep you posted on the timing of the next launch attempt. https://t.co/tQ0lp6Ruhv\u201d— NASA (@NASA) 1661777047
Monday was the first available launch window for the rocket, which will kick off a new era of human space travel to the moon and, eventually, to Mars.
The Artemis rocket stands 322 feet (98 metres) high and is the most powerful spacecraft ever built by NASA.
Blasting a rocket into space takes a lot of work and planning, and that includes everything from getting the right weather to blasting off when the Earth and moon are in just the right spot.
That's where these launch windows come in. Essentially, there are prime times for launching a rocket to the moon, and the first such window opened Monday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. The launch window only lasted two hours, and the next one isn't until Friday.
However, NASA officials say there's no guarantee that they'll try again on Friday, because they have to sort out this fuel issue first.
The Artemis program is a successor to the Apollo program that initially put humans on the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Apollo was just about getting to the moon, whereas Artemis aims to set up some infrastructure to make it easier to go to Mars one day.
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The plan is to send the Artemis I rocket up with nothing but mannequins onboard, just to be sure that NASA can pull this kind of thing off again.
The next mission, Artemis II, is scheduled to launch in 2024 at the earliest. That mission will carry a crew of four live astronauts into the moon's orbit before bringing them back to Earth.
Finally, sometime in late 2025, the Artemis III mission will put the first woman on the moon, and the first man on the moon since 1972.
Of course, NASA needs to pull off this first unmanned mission before those other things can happen.
So keep your fingers crossed for Friday!