NASA hopes to launch the lunar Artemis I mission again later this month, but first must overcome a number of challenges. The team from the agency hopes to finish removing and replacing faulty seals on the rocket’s fueling system by the end of Thursday. NASA requires a waiver from the United States in order to launch on the requested next target dates of September 23 and September 27. 

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NASA said Thursday that it is working to resolve the issues that caused the delay in the launch of its Artemis I moon rocket last week, and that it hopes to try again later this month. The space agency said on Sept. 3 that the mission was aborted after a hydrogen leak was discovered while the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket was being fueled. The Artemis I mission marks the first flight of the SLS rocket and the uncrewed Orion capsule, which will travel around the moon for more than a month.

Several unsuccessful attempts to repair the leak occurred during the launch countdown on Saturday. NASA officials said at a press conference on Thursday that work at the launchpad is continuing, with the agency’s team aiming to replace seals on the fueling system by the end of the day. NASA then plans to hold a tanking demonstration on September 17 to confirm that the replacement work was successful. Assuming that the work and testing are completed by then, NASA has asked the US for new launch dates. The Space Force’s Eastern Range – which reviews and approves all missions that launch from the Cape Canaveral region – has requested launch attempts on September 23 and September 27.

NASA’s associate administrator, Jim Free, noted that whether the Space Force will sign off on extending the requirements previously set around the batteries for the rocket’s flight termination system, which is required in the event of a problem mid-launch, is critical to those requests. “We’re trying to figure out how to proceed if we’re allowed to extend our battery retest requirements,” Free explained.NASA needs a waiver from the Eastern Range to move forward with an attempt on either of those launch dates. Without the waiver or completion of the hydrogen leak work, NASA faces an October 1 delay for the Artemis I mission.