A much-anticipated launch of NASA’s Artemis 1 mission moon rocket at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center was scrubbed Monday after a cascade of last-minute problems, but the chances of launching Friday are "more than zero," officials say.
The comments were reported by FOX 35 Orlando’s Dave Puglisi, who quoted launch officials as saying they would have a better idea on Tuesday.
"Information then will give us all a better idea of if a rocket is heading towards the moon," Puglisi tweeted.
NASA repeatedly stopped and started the fueling of the Space Launch System rocket Monday morning because of a leak of highly explosive hydrogen, eventually succeeding in reducing the seepage. The leak happened in the same place that saw seepage during a dress rehearsal in the spring.
The fueling was already running nearly an hour late because of thunderstorms near Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
Then, NASA ran into new trouble when it was unable to chill one of the rocket's four main engines, officials said. Engineers struggled to pinpoint the source of the problem until well after the launch postponement was announced.
Mission manager Mike Sarafin said the fault did not appear to be with the engine itself but with the plumbing leading to it.
Complicating matters, as engineers were trying to troubleshoot that problem on the launch pad, yet another hydrogen leak developed, this one involving a vent valve higher up on the rocket, Sarafin said.
The rocket was set to lift off on a flight to propel a crew capsule into orbit around the moon. The six-week mission was scheduled to end with the capsule returning to Earth in a splashdown in the Pacific in October.
Asked about the possibility of another launch attempt on Friday, Sarafin said, "We really need time to look at all the information, all the data. We're going to play all nine innings here."
Barring Friday, the next launch attempt could be delayed until mid-September or later. The mission will be the first flight in NASA's Artemis project, a quest to put astronauts back on the moon for the first time since the Apollo program ended 50 years ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.