Dark clouds hover over Artemis 1 at Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday. NASA said that conditions look favorable for a Saturday launch. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 2 (UPI) -- NASA says it will try again on Saturday to send its giant moon rocket and a space capsule to the moon and back -- the first Artemis mission -- after multiple problems that spoiled the first attempt were fixed.
The space agency was ready to launch Artemis I on Monday when fuel leaks and a problem with a core-stage main engine sensor led controllers to scrub the attempt.
NASA now says everything looks good for a Saturday launch.
"Right now we're on track for a 2:17 p.m. launch. We have a 2 hour window," Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager of exploration ground systems at the Kennedy Space Center, told reporters at a news conference Friday.
"The team has really just done a fantastic job getting us just out of launch attempt number one, repairing all the issues and getting us into a safe configuration to proceed into tomorrow's launch attempt."
Parsons said more checks were scheduled to be done later Friday.
"We're charging the batteries on the flight elements, finishing final walk-downs, everyone kind of going through their systems making sure everything looks and is in the appropriate configuration," he added. "We have a busy afternoon moving everything into launch configuration."
Before the launch Saturday, engine bleed "kick-starts" will be done for about an hour, which is a significant part of the launch sequence.
American flags wave in the breeze after a second launch attempt was scrubbed for the Artemis 1 mission on Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on September 3, 2022. NASA plans to try again in the coming weeks. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
"That will be bringing the tank up to flight pressure for a period of time," Parsons said. "That's where the risk mitigation for when we get into terminal count so we don't run into any unexpected issues there."
U.S. Space Force launch weather officer Melody Love said the forecast Saturday looks pretty good. The weather is expected to "start off a bit dicey" late in the morning and clear up in time for the launch, she added.
"I do expect to make some no-go calls at some point tomorrow," Love said. "However, as that East Coast sea breeze drifts farther inland we do expect clearing on the back side of that."
NASA said there is a 60% chance of favorable launch weather at the beginning of the 2:17 p.m. EDT launch window. That estimate rises to 80% toward the end of the two-hour period.
If necessary, the start of the launch window can be pushed back until 4:17 p.m., officials said.
If Artemis I doesn't launch on Saturday, the next opportunity will be on Monday.
The mission is the first for the Artemis program, which aims to send humans back to the moon for the first time in 50 years. The first mission, which is unmanned, will fly a total of 1.3 million miles to the moon and back over 42 days.
Artemis II, a manned mission that will take astronauts around the moon, is scheduled for sometime in 2024. Artemis III, the highly anticipated return of humans to the lunar surface, is estimated to launch in 2025.