KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - The anticipation was great and the letdown even greater for the thousands who made their way out to the coast to witness history. In the end, the Artemis I launch was scrubbed due to technical issues.
"We are going to launch when we are ready and that is our approach," said NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate Jim Free.
The unmanned spacecraft was supposed to be a test flight headed toward the moon. NASA officials are potentially targeting the end of the week for its next attempt at the historic Artemis I rocket launch. NASA will give an update on the next launch window date on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET. You can watch it live in the player above when it begins.
The launch precedes Artemis II which will put US astronauts on the moon for the first time in 50 years.
"We are not going to let another hurdle deter us from trying to achieve the next step," said Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin.
NASA officials said many hurdles were cleared before and during the two-hour launch window. In the end, it was a hydrogen leak that needed a closer look. The issue was one that the Artemis rocket didn’t experience during any of the four wet dress rehearsals. Experts say the issue is not devastating.
"If a physical piece of the engine is broken that could be an engine issue. Here the engine appears to be in good shape. The problem is with the condition of the engine prior to launch," said retired United States Navy Captain and former NASA astronaut Winston Scott.
The next potential launch window opens on Friday, Sept. 2, with a backup opportunity on Labor Day on Sept. 5. Whether the rocket launches on either of those still depends on resolving the issue with one of the RS-25 engines, which could require NASA to roll the moon rocket back into the Vehicle Assembly Building for repairs.
At this time, the next availability for launch would be 12:48 p.m. ET on Sept. 2 or 5:12 p.m. ET on Sept. 5.
Some questioned if the launch was even a good idea at all after scrubbing all four of those wet dress rehearsals, but NASA stands by its decision.
"I agree we won’t know until we know, but we also won’t know until we try," said Free. "We felt like we were in the best position to try."
Tens of thousands of spectators traveled from as far the United Kingdom to Central Florida to watch the first rocket in more than 50 years designed to carry humans to the moon take off for lunar orbit.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the chair of the National Space Council which assists the president on the development and implementation of space policy and strategy, had also traveled to Central Florida to view the launch and to deliver remarks.
NASA delayed the countdown clock at T-40 around 7:30 a.m. as crews worked to troubleshoot the reported hydrogen leak on one of the four engines (engine 3) of NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The NASA team ultimately agreed to scrub Monday's launch for another day.
The Artemis I mission would have been the first test flight to demonstrate the performance of both Orion spacecraft and the SLS rocket and test our capabilities to orbit the moon and return to Earth safely.
If successful, the flight would pave the way for future missions to the lunar vicinity and beyond.
There were no humans aboard the rocket, but three manikins named Campos, Helga, and Zohar were set to go along on the journey. They were outfitted with sensors to help determine what human astronauts will experience when they launch and land in Orion.
NASA will be holding another press conference Tuesday to discuss in more detail what went wrong with the launch. Their review of the data will bring the chances of Friday’s launch into focus.
"We are going to play all nine innings here," said Sarafin. We’re not ready to give up yet."