NASA pushed back a potential third launch attempt of its massive moon rocket until at least Sept. 27, or four days after the earliest possible date the space agency said last week was possible.
In a blog post published Monday evening, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration also said it was now targeting Sept. 21 for a key test of repairs that engineers have been carrying out as the rocket sits on a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Last week, the agency said it expected to conduct that test on Sept. 17.
The new timeline accounts for multiple logistical issues, giving engineers more time to prepare for the test, which will use super-cold, or cryogenic, fuels, the agency said in the blog post.
“The dates also allow managers to ensure teams have enough rest and to replenish supplies of cryogenic propellants,” NASA said.
The agency, in updating its potential launch schedule for the uncrewed Artemis I mission, took out Sept. 23 as a possible flight date, but said it may try to target Oct. 2 as an additional back-up date. The latter day is still under review, NASA said.
The agency still doesn’t have permission from a division of the U.S. Space Force that oversees launch operations at the Kennedy property, a NASA spokeswoman said. NASA needs a waiver from certain retesting requirements the military unit has set for a flight-termination system on board the rocket.
NASA originally hoped to ignite its Space Launch System rocket with the Orion spacecraft on top on Aug. 29, but scrubbed that attempt in part due to a bad sensor that fed it faulty data during an engine-cooling procedure.
On Sept. 3, the agency struggled with what engineers described as a relatively large hydrogen leak and called off a launch attempt that day.
The demonstration test now slated for no earlier than Sept. 21 will allow engineers to confirm that the hydrogen leak has been repaired, among other goals, NASA said in its Monday evening blog post.