An engine cooling problem on NASA’s colossal new rocketship for deep-space exploration forced the space agency to call off the booster’s much-anticipated launch debut on early August 29, 2022.
NASA had mostly filled fuel in its Space Launch System (SLS) mega rocket to launch the Artemis 1 moon mission when launch controllers could not cool down one of the four main engines to the temperatures required to handle its super-cold propellant.
The problem stalled plans to launch the SLS rocket and its uncrewed Orion spacecraft on an ambitious 42-day test flight around the moon. The SLS’s liftoff was scheduled for 8:33 am EDT (1233 GMT).
The NASA officials said that cooling down the SLS rocket’s engines before flowing cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen through them is required before the mega rocket could liftoff. While three of the rocket’s four engines passed that test, Engine No. 3 did not, despite troubleshooting efforts.
All four of the engines were previously flown on NASA’s space shuttle program of reusable vehicles.
According to Derrol Nail, NASA’s spokesperson, the engine conditioning was not something the team could verify during the “wet dress rehearsal” process that concluded in June 2022.
With NASA unable to launch the SLS today, the space agency could try to launch again on September 2 or September 5, 2022, weather permitting.