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Will Artemis I lift off on Saturday? NASA says 'We’re going to give it our best'

The Artemis moon rocket on the launch pad
John Raoux
The NASA moon rocket stands on Pad 39B for the Artemis 1 mission to orbit the Moon at the Kennedy Space Center, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, in Cape Canaveral.

The forecast is 60% for a go for when the launch window opens up at 2:17 p.m.

After standing down the first launch attempt on Monday due to a variety of issues, NASA says they are ready to try another launch attempt on Saturday.

“There’s no guarantee we’ll get off on the third (of September) but we’re going to show up. We’re going to try. And, we’re going to give it our best,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager.

Saturday’s 2-hour launch window opens at 2:17 p.m.

At a prelaunch media briefing on Thursday evening, Sarafin and other members of the Artemis I program team discussed at length the technical issues that forced them to scrub the first launch attempt. That included a hydrogen leak, an issue with the core stage inner tank valve, and what appeared to be a temperature problem with one of the core stage engines. The engineers have since determined the issue was a faulty sensor and not a problem with the engine. Sarafin also confirmed the other issues had also been resolved to the satisfaction of mission management.

Sarafin expressed praise saying, “The technical teams have put in a tremendous amount of work in a very short of time to get us here.”

One thing NASA can’t control is the weather. Melody Lovin, Weather Officer for Space Launch Delta 45, said the forecast is 60% a go for when the launch window opens up. She said a ridge building across the state will deliver an easterly flow which she described as “normally good news because it lowers the lightning risk from a typical afternoon for a Florida summer.”

Graphic shows Artemis weather forecast

Artemis I is the uncrewed test mission for the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s most powerful rocket and the Orion spacecraft which will return humans to the Moon and eventually take them to Mars.

If Saturday’s launch is scrubbed, NASA’s next shot is scheduled for early evening Monday, Labor Day.

“We have got to show up. We have got to be ready. We have got to see what the day brings,” said Sarafin with cautious optimism.

NASA’s live coverage of the launch begins Saturday at 5:45 a.m. with tanking operations.