MONTREAL – NASA’s decision to cancel the launch of its new moon rocket is disappointing but necessary due to another leak discovered before the scheduled test flight, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques said Saturday.
The Artemis 1 mission, which aims to send an uncrewed NASA Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket to the Moon, has been delayed after the rocket caused a fuel leak, forcing controllers to cancel the second attempt this week.
Monday’s first effort to send a crew capsule with test dummies on board into lunar orbit was also halted due to hydrogen leaking elsewhere on the NASA-built 98-meter rocket.
The test flight is expected to be the first return to the Moon in nearly 50 years.
Saint-Jacques, who was due to watch the launch from Canadian Space Agency headquarters in suburban Montreal, said the excited space buff in him was disappointed, but the sober engineer knows it was The good choice.
“It’s the right thing to do, there’s no need to rush to throw,” Saint-Jacques said.
It was not immediately clear when NASA might try again. Saint-Jacques said a window remains open until around Tuesday, but after that the moon won’t be in the right place in the sky for a few weeks.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said on Saturday the launch would be halted until October if the rocket had to return to the hangar for repairs.
The $4.1 billion test flight is the first step in NASA’s Artemis program of renewed lunar exploration, named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology.
Saint-Jacques said the test flight was important, noting that a Canadian astronaut is expected to be part of Artemis 2, the first crewed flight since Apollo 17 in 1972, which is expected to fly around the moon and return in 2024. .
The flight would make Canada the second country to send someone around the moon.
“It will be huge for our nation,” Saint-Jacques said. “Everyone remembers where they were when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, well I think everyone will remember where they were when a Canadian went on the moon.”
Canada is also providing the Canadaarm 3 to the Lunar Gateway, a planned lunar orbiting space station that is expected to be a key part of the Artemis program. Canadian researchers and companies also participate in the program.
Saint-Jacques said the Artemis program will reintroduce humans to the lunar environment, but also provide a training ground for missions to Mars. The first step, however, is to get the Artemis 1 mission off the launch pad so scientists can learn everything they need from the test.
Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne issued a statement on Saturday expressing his disappointment.
“Like many Canadians, I look forward to the successful launch of Artemis I. But as you know, this is a very complex mission and it is important to carry it out safely,” said declared Champagne.
“We’ve waited almost 50 years for humans to return to the Moon, so whether it’s days or weeks, Canada will be at the center of the next steps in humanity’s space exploration.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 3, 2022.
– with files from the Associated Press