Aborted Artemis launch thrusts hydrogen safety into global spotlight


The dangers of hydrogen – and importance of robust and swift leak detection – have been underlined by the aborted launch of Artemis 1 for a second time on Saturday.

According to Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, NASA’s Artemis launch director, teams encountered a liquid hydrogen leak while loading the propellant into the rocket’s core stage, and multiple troubleshooting efforts to address the area of the leak by reseating a seal in the quick disconnect where liquid hydrogen is fed into the rocket did not fix the issue.

A Nasa statement reads, “A liquid hydrogen leak has reoccurred again in a cavity between the ground and flight side plates of a quick disconnect in the engine section.”

While it can’t be said definitively what caused the leak, attention is focusing on inadvertent over-pressurisation of the hydrogen line early morning, and incorrect commands to the wrong valve, according to reports.

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