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Launch Delay

GROUNDED The countdown is stopped after NASA calls off its rocket launch on September 3. JOE RAEDLE—GETTY IMAGES

On September 3, NASA called off the launch of its new rocket, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was the second time in a week. The cause was a fuel leak. NASA says the launch of the uncrewed Artemis I, the first step toward sending people to the moon in more than 50 years, may now have to wait until October.

“We’ll go when it’s ready,” NASA’s Bill Nelson says. A thorough test of the rocket is necessary, he says, “before we put four humans up on the top of it.” NASA is hoping to land astronauts on the moon in a few years. The Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket NASA has built. Its engines are powered by liquid hydrogen. The leak posed a risk to a successful launch. The rocket is now being repaired.

Launch delays are not uncommon. In 2020, bad weather grounded a SpaceX attempt to launch a crewed mission to the International Space Station. In 2009, five attempts were canceled before the space shuttle Endeavour took off.

The thousands of people who gathered in Cape Canaveral to watch the Artemis launch went home disappointed. “Rockets are finicky, like cats,” Vincent Anderson, of Lake Alfred, Florida, told the New York Times. “They go up when they want to.”

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