(ORDO NEWS) — The debut flight of NASA‘s mega-lunar rocket threatens further delays after a series of failed tests.
On Monday, officials said it would be difficult to meet the launch deadline of early to mid-June. The next opportunity to send an empty capsule to the moon on a test flight will be at the end of June or in July.
The 30-story Space Launch System rocket has been on the pad at the Kennedy Space Center for the past month.
She’ll be back in the hangar next week to repair valves and fix a fuel leak. Problems arose earlier this month, preventing NASA from filling the rocket’s fuel tanks for a critical dress rehearsal.
The missile will likely spend a few weeks in the hangar before returning to the pad for retesting, launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson said.
Engineers are considering various options for getting back to work.
“It’s just a matter of timing and the right way to do it,” said Tom Whitmyer, NASA Deputy Assistant Administrator.
NASA wants to conduct this test flight before putting astronauts on board for a second launch, a flyby of the moon, scheduled for 2024.
A third mission will attempt to land astronauts on the moon around 2025, more than half a century after NASA’s Apollo lunar missions.
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