NASA to launch lunar rocket Artemis 1 from launch site after failed refueling attempts

NASA has decided to drop its lunar rocket Artemis 1 from the launch pad and back to the production facility to fix some of the problems revealed by a recent wet dress rehearsal test.

The wet dress rehearsal – a series of key tests designed to show that Artemis 1’s huge space launch vehicle (SLS), the Orion spacecraft and related ground infrastructure – is ready for work – began on April 1 at Space Station 39B NASA’s Kennedy Center (KSC) in Florida.

Things were to end about 48 hours later, with the loading of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen in the SLS and the execution of several simulated launch counts. However, members of the Artemis 1 team faced several problems that delayed these steps, but they eventually refused to accept the private mission of the Ax-1 astronauts, which launched on top of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on April 8 from Pad 39A on KSC.

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Wet clothing started again on April 12, in a modified format: After finding a defective valve at the bottom of the mobile start supporting the Artemis 1 stack, the team decided to load only the main stage of SLS, not its upper stage.

The technicians began charging the main stage on April 14 as planned, but stopped after noticing liquid hydrogen leaking from one of the “umbilical” lines running from the mobile launch tower to the SLS.

After completing this nourishing effort – the third of the wetwear campaign after unsuccessful attempts on April 3 and April 4 – members of the Artemis 1 team took some time to analyze their data and their options. They initially left the door open to resume wet clothing next week, with another attempt to tank perhaps as early as Thursday (April 21st).

But this is no longer on the table. The team decided to move the Artemis 1 stack from Pad 39B and back to the KSC cavern assembly building to replace the defective valve and deal with the leaking umbilical canal.

“During this time, the agency will also review schedules and options for demonstrating refueling operations before launch,” NASA officials wrote in an update on Saturday (April 16th).

The decision, or at least the timing of it, is due in part to external factors, NASA officials said, citing needed improvements “from an off-site supplier of nitrogen gas used for the test.”

We will soon learn more about the decision and plans; NASA will hold a press conference Artemis 1 on Monday (April 18) at 15:00 EDT (17:00 GMT). You can watch it live on

Mike Wall is the author of “Out there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow it on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.