NASA postponed the launch of the Artemis 1 space rocket, which was poised to launch Aug. 29. NASA spotted an issue with the machine and decided to hold off the event for safety purposes.
NASA has postponed the launch of Artemis 1 a total of 16 times since it first announced a launch in 2016. The space organization contracted a few companies to help with the creation of Artemis 1.
Is Artemis 1 a SpaceX rocket?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX isn't involved in the Artemis 1 moon rocket program. The rocket's construction, a group effort, involved aerospace company Northrop Grumman (NOC), which made the rocket boosters. Aerojet Rocketdyne (AJRD) built the engines (where the issue causing the postponement is taking place), and Boeing (BA) built the rocket’s orange core stage, which is also experiencing issues.
All three companies' stocks are fluctuating on the news of the launch postponement. Once its launch succeeds, Artemis 1 will be a trial run of a moon rocket equipped with the hardware needed for prolonged lunar stays.
Why the Artemis 1 launch was postpone
The Artemis 1 launch was postponed due to issues with engine liquid temperatures. Engineers are currently working behind the scenes to determine solutions. Despite the issues, NASA says, “The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft remain in a safe and stable configuration. Launch controllers were continuing to evaluate why a bleed test to get the RS-25 engines on the bottom of the core stage to the proper temperature range for liftoff was not successful, and ran out of time in the two-hour launch window. Engineers are continuing to gather additional data.”
In addition, NASA reports there “appears to be a crack in the thermal protection system material on one of the flanges on the core stage.”
When is the new Artemis 1 launch date?
One thing's for sure: the longer Artemis 1 is postponed, the more expensive it gets. The project is poised to have a final price tag of $93 billion, according to Space.com.
As for when NASA will reschedule the launch, the agency has already set Sept. 2 and Sept. 5 as backup dates. Whether NASA will achieve these launch dates depends on if the engineers can resolve the issue. If NASA misses the backup dates, it will have to announce a new set of dates that will likely be at least a few months out.
Artemis 1 will be an unmanned launch, meaning no people will be aboard the rocket. It isn’t even expected to go all the way to the moon on its first go-around. Still, the rocket is a valuable piece of equipment that will lead to manned journeys in the next few years if successful. Humans were last on the moon on Dec. 19, 1972, during a 12-day mission that broke numerous records, including the longest space walk ever.