NASA has called off the launch of its Artemis 1 rocket after a leak developed – the second time it has failed to go ahead.
Engineers recommended to the launch director the planned lift-off should not go ahead.
The rocket, which was initially planned to launch earlier this week on Monday 29, was scrubbed following a hydrogen leak.
Earlier on Saturday, NASA said: “During tanking of the Artemis I mission, a leak developed in the supply side of the eight-inch quick disconnect while attempting to transfer fuel to the rocket.
“Attempts to fix it so far have been unsuccessful.”
The latest attempt to launch the Space Launch System rocket and its Orion capsule was scrubbed after repeated attempts by technicians to correct a leak of super-cooled liquid hydrogen propellant being pumped into the
vehicle’s core-stage fuel tanks.
Besides struggling to remedy the leak itself, the difficulty caused mission managers to fall behind in the countdown, leaving too little time to complete pre-launch preparations before lift-off.
There was no immediate word on a time frame for retrying to launch the mission, dubbed Artemis I. But NASA could schedule another attempt for Monday or Tuesday.
The Artemis programme is planning to send humans back to the surface of the moon more than 50 years after the last Apollo mission – and NASA wants to establish a base there as it targets an eventual crewed mission to Mars.
NASA wants to send the capsule on top of the rocket around the moon, pushing it to the limit before astronauts get on the next flight.
If the five-week demo with test dummies succeeds, astronauts could fly around the moon in 2024 and land on it in 2025. People last walked on the moon 50 years ago.