NASA Stands Down Second Artemis I Launch Attempt Due to Hydrogen Leak

NASA stood down the launch of Artemis I for a second time on Saturday, September 3, after engineers could not resolve a hydrogen leak, the US space agency said.

A statement released by NASA said that mission managers had met and decided to forego any additional launch attempts for early September.

“During today’s launch attempt, engineers saw a leak in a cavity between the ground side and rocket side plates surrounding an 8-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the [space launch system] rocket,” NASA said. “Three attempts at reseating the seal were unsuccessful.”

The agency did not provide a third launch date, saying that due to “the complex orbital mechanics involved in launching to the Moon, NASA would have had to launch Artemis I by Tuesday, Sept. 6 as part of the current launch period.”

A list of possible future launch opportunities was made available by NASA. Credit: NASA via Storyful

Video transcript

DERROL NAIL: This is Artemis launch control. The launch team has-- excuse me-- the lunch team has presented a recommendation of no-go for launch to the NASA test director and launch director. We are currently awaiting a decision by launch director Charlie Blackwell Thompson. Stand by for that.

This is Artemis launch control. Launch director Charlie Blackwell Thompson just called a scrub for the launch attempt today, the second launch attempt. Again, launch director Charlie Blackwell Thompson calling a scrub for the day here at the Kennedy Space Center launch complex 39B. The team now going into the cut-off procedure after being unable to resolve a hydrogen leak.

The vehicle is safe. NASA test director Jeff Spalding now putting the team into a configuration to drain the propellants from the tank. Liquid oxygen reached a 100% state. And so the priority will be given to draining that tank. And currently, they are underway.

Again, we have a scrub for the day, a cut off, of the launch attempt of Artemis 1.

This is our missile launch control. The launch director waved off today's attempt at launching at approximately 11:17 AM eastern time. The launch team ran into a liquid hydrogen leak while loading propellant into the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket. There are multiple troubleshooting efforts that were made to try to get the leak to stop and reseal the connection for the quick disconnect of the liquid hydrogen line.

This is where the liquid hydrogen is fed into the rocket. Unfortunately, those attempts to troubleshoot it did not succeed. Engineers are still continuing to gather data, but also reconfiguring the rocket and de-tanking at this moment the liquid oxygen tank. It's currently down to 90% filled.

Due to the aft strut constraint, they're going to drain that tank first of the core stage liquid hydrogen tank is held at its current level of 11%. The aft strut constraint requires the team to have at least 50% filled liquid oxygen to over 5% liquid hydrogen.