Nasa delays Artemis launch by a month in major blow for moon mission

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Nasa has said the Artemis 1 mission could be pushed back by more than a month after the second launch attempt on Saturday was scrubbed due to an engine leak.

The US space agency was forced to postpone the latest launch with just under 150 minutes left on the countdown at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“Teams attempted to fix an issue related to a leak in the hardware transferring fuel into the rocket, but were unsuccessful,” Nasa said in a statement.

It marked the second time in five days that the launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket failed to make it through the pre-launch procedures, with the previous scrub the result of an engine leak.

The SLS is the biggest rocket Nasa has ever built, and forms the backbone to the entire Artemis program. Its first mission is an uncrewed trip around the Moon, though eventually Nasa hopes to use it to carry astronauts aboard the Orion space craft to Moon and on to Mars.

The latest launch delay will likely push back the overall Aremis program, with Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson warning that other missions will be prioritised over the flight test.

“Although the window opens in early [October], I suspect it will be more like the middle [of October],” Nelson said.

“We go when it’s ready. We don’t don’t go until then, and especially now on a test flight because we’re going to stress this and test it, and test that heat shield, and make sure it’s right before we put four humans up on the top of it.”

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