Following two unsuccessful attempts to launch its new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket towards the moon, NASA on Monday confirmed a new schedule for a third effort to get the highly anticipated Artemis I mission underway.
The space agency said it is planning to launch the rocket on Tuesday, September 27, but that if it fails, it will try to send the rocket skyward on Sunday, October 2.
NASA said it was preparing a launch attempt on Friday, September 23 last week, but the date has been changed.
The Orion capsule returns to Earth six weeks later on October 2, with a 109-minute launch window opening at 2:52 p.m. ET, and the spacecraft returning to Earth on November 11.
NASA had stated that it must perform a fueling test before the September 27 launch, something it intends to undertake until Wednesday, September 21.
The updated schedules represent a thorough examination of multiple logistical topics, according to the agency in a release on Monday, adding that the new timetable also allows managers to ensure teams have enough sleep and replenish supplies of cryogenic propellants.
The launch attempt on August 29 was called off by NASA with just 40 minutes on the countdown clock after engineers identified an issue with one of the engines on the rockets core stage.
After a fuel leak was discovered, it put the final preparations for a second launch five days later.
The 97-meter-tall rocket and the Orion spacecraft have been used on the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
In 2025, the uncrewed Artemis I mission will send the Orion on a fly-by of the moon, with the spacecraft returning to Earth six weeks later. If the test mission is a success, NASA will send astronauts on the same flight path for the Artemis II mission. Next, Artemis III will attempt to include the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface in the first crewed moon landing in five decades.
NASA intends to utilize the early Artemis missions to build a moon base for long-duration crewed missions, utilizing what it learns for the first astronaut mission to Mars, possibly in the late 2030s.