NASA ready for second attempt at Artemis lunar launch

NASA / Joel Kowsky

Ground teams at Kennedy Space Center prepared on Saturday for a second try at launching NASA's towering, next-generation moon rocket on its debut flight, hoping to have remedied engineering problems that foiled the initial countdown five days ago.

Launch controllers began filling the 32-story tall Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with fuel early on Saturday ahead of a 2:17 p.m. EDT (10:17pm UAE time) liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, committing to a second attempt at a mission that will kick off NASA's ambitious moon-to-Mars Artemis program 50 years after the last Apollo lunar mission.

The previous launch bid on Monday ended with technical problems forcing a halt to the countdown and postponement of the uncrewed flight.

Tests indicated technicians have since fixed a leaky fuel line that contributed to Monday's canceled launch, Jeremy Parsons, a deputy program manager at the space center, told reporters on Friday.

Two other key issues on the rocket itself - a faulty engine temperature sensor and some cracks in insulation foam - have been resolved to NASA's satisfaction, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin told reporters on Thursday night.

Weather is always an additional factor beyond NASA's control. The latest forecast called for a 70% chance of favorable conditions during Saturday's two-hour launch window, according to the U.S. Space Force at Cape Canaveral.

If the countdown clock were halted again, NASA could reschedule another launch attempt for Monday or Tuesday.

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