Spaceflight Insider

Artemis I Space Launch System Rollout Delayed to January

An artist’s rendering of Artemis I after rollout to Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39B. Credit: NASA

An artist’s rendering of Artemis I after rollout to Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39B. Credit: NASA

NEW ORLEANS, La. — The rollout of the fully-stacked Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle, from Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC’s) Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), has been scheduled to occur by the end of the year. However, SpaceFlight Insider previously reported that the rollout may be delayed. On Dec. 7, 2021, while speaking at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), NASA Administrator Bill Nelson confirmed the delay by stating, ”It’s going to have it’s rollout to the pad in January.”

In addition, other news outlets have reported on an issue that may be driving the delay — a problem with with the engine controller on one, of four, core stage RS-25 engines.

The Artemis I RS-25’s are previously-flown Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME’s). However, the controllers, or “brains,” for the engines have been updated for use on Artemis SLS flights.

While at MAF, Spaceflight Insider had the opportunity to follow up with the Administrator, as well as with SLS Program Manager, John Honeycutt, on this issue.

When asked about the controller problem and it’s effect on the timing of the rollout, Nelson stated, “I’m going to have John answer it specifically, but I can tell you it’s not going to fly until everything is absolutely what we expect it to be, and that safety is number one at NASA.”

Honeycutt then explained, “Our liquid engine office is responsible for that engine, as well as the prime contractor, Aerojet Rocketdyne. We’re in the process of analyzing the data that we downloaded from the engine controller last week via some special test equipment.”

Honeycutt continued, “We’re not quite sure whether it’s associated with the power supply from the ground, or whether it’s internal to the engine controller.”

“I think it’s probably going to be a few more days until we get that nailed down,” Honeycutt said. “At that point, we’ll have several options that we’re in the process of evaluating right now, whether it be use as is, or replace the controller.”

“As the Administrator said on the [timing of the selection of the Artemis II and III] crew, it’s a little bit ‘to be determined,’ but I expect something here in the next few days,” Honeycutt concluded.


Scott earned both a Bachelor's Degree in public administration, and a law degree, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He currently practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Scott first remembers visiting Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978 to get an up-close look at the first orbiter, Enterprise, which had been transported to Huntsville for dynamic testing. More recently, in 2006, he participated in an effort at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to restore the long-neglected Skylab 1-G Trainer. This led to a volunteer position, with the USSRC curator, where he worked for several years maintaining exhibits and archival material, including flown space hardware. Scott attended the STS - 110, 116 and 135 shuttle launches, along with Ares I-X, Atlas V MSL and Delta IV NROL-15 launches. More recently, he covered the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-2 and MAVEN launches, along with the Antares ORB-1, SpaceX CRS-3, and Orion EFT-1 launches.

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