HomeAstronomy & SpaceMore delays for NASA's moon rocket test, fueling stalled

More delays for NASA’s moon rocket test, fueling stalled

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NASA’s dress rehearsal for its mega moon rocket is off until at least this weekend because of a pair of technical problems that kept stalling a fueling test.

Launch managers tried twice to load nearly 1 million gallons of fuel into the 322-foot rocket known as Space Launch System (SLS). Balky fans at the launch pad thwarted the first effort and an improperly closed valve halted the second attempt.

The countdown test is the last major milestone before the rocket’s long-awaited launch debut. The Orion crew capsule atop the rocket will be hurled to the moon in a passenger-less test flight. It was looping around but not landing before returning to Earth. NASA is targeting June. It will depend on how the demo goes.

Scientists said the launch team will wait until SpaceX launches four private passengers to the International Space Station before taking another crack at the fueling test. Liftoff is scheduled for Friday from Kennedy Space Center. It is barely a mile from the pad holding the SLS rocket.

Managers declined to specify a date for the next SLS fueling attempt. But noted they would not have to start the test from scratch.

The dress rehearsal began Friday and should have lasted just two days. A severe thunderstorm resulted in four lightning strikes at the pad Saturday. But officials did not believe that caused any of the technical problems. They described the problems as nuisances and not design issues.

NASA will send a crew around the moon in 2024 and then attempt the first lunar landing by astronauts in 2025 or so, after this first moonshot in NASA’s Artemis program. Astronauts last walked on the moon in 1972 during NASA’s Apollo program.

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