SLS Launch Postponed To October Due To Hydrogen Leaks

Abdul Ghani

NASA has given up launching the Artemis I mission for the time being. The technical problems cannot be solved on the launch pad. After the failure of the first attempt to launch the SLS heavy-duty rocket on August 29, 2022, there was a second attempt on September 3. During the filling of the hydrogen tank, hydrogen leaks occurred again and again due to a leaky connection in the fuel line. Despite three more attempts to reheat the line and establish a tight connection, further attempts had to be abandoned.
Artemis I Preflight Rehearsal.Image by NASA HQ Photo from Flickr

The leak was caused by an accidental overpressure in the line of 4.2 instead of 1.4 bar and was significantly larger than on Monday. The escaping hydrogen created an ignitable mixture of air and more than 10 percent hydrogen. This time the leak was inside the rocket. In order not to risk an explosion, those responsible broke off further attempts. The rocket is now driven from the launch pad back into the Vehicle Assembly Building for inspection.

Problems with a leaky connection in the fuel line arose during the first attempt to start, but in the open air, so no explosive mixture was formed. Although the rocket could be fully refueled, this attempt had to be aborted because main engine number 3 could not be cooled down to operating temperature due to a defective valve and a defective temperature sensor. During the second tank test, further cracks also appeared in the insulation of the hydrogen tank.

The main reason for the problems is missing tests and different test environments. The development and testing of the main rocket stage of the SLS did not take place in Florida, but in Mississippi at the Stennis Space Center. The refueling equipment there is not identical to that at Kennedy Space Center. Already during the dress rehearsal at the start, there were repeated fuel leaks, because of which parts of the test program had to be skipped. No cooling of the engines was planned in the dress rehearsal, which is why the defective temperature sensor of engine number 3 was not noticed.

Since the rocket is being driven off the launch pad and lengthy work is now pending, reserved launch dates cannot be used. The earliest possible date for the next SLS launch attempt is October 17, 2022. The NASA boss responsible for Artemis, Jim Free, said about the launch abort that "on a few days the hardware did not cooperate" and swore that the will to persevere was part of the culture the NASA.

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Member Of Freelancers Union (USA), Freelance Writer!, and Digital Creator. Ghani Mengal is an enthusiast Freelance blogger and digital marketer. His content has been published and featured on many popular blogs, websites, and publications. Including TeelFeed,, Data-Driven Investor, TextSniper, Scientific Publication The Predict, The Startup, The Ascent, Heart Affairs, Illumination, And The List goes on.


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