The launch of NASA’s new megarocket to the Moon, for the long-awaited Artemis-1 test mission, will not be able to take place on Tuesday, September 27 as planned, the US space agency announced on Saturday. Under the threat of Tropical Storm Ian, currently south of Jamaica, NASA must prepare the rocket to return to shelter in its assembly building.
The storm is expected to strengthen into a hurricane in the next few days and move across the Gulf of Mexico toward Florida, home to the Kennedy Space Center where the rocket will take off. “On Saturday morning, the teams decided to forgo preparation for Tuesday’s liftoff date to allow them to set up the systems to carry the rocket. (…) in the assembly building »NASA wrote.
A complex maneuver
However, the final decision to retract the rocket will be made on Sunday. “to allow more data and analysis to be collected” as the weather forecast becomes clearer, he added. If it is carried out, then the operation would begin. “Sunday afternoon or early Monday morning”. Then the current layoff period, which runs until October 4, would be lost.
If it is ultimately decided that the rocket can remain on its launch pad, NASA did not specify whether the previously announced booking date of October 2 could still be considered for liftoff.
The orange and white SLS rocket, 98 meters tall, can withstand wind gusts of up to 137 kilometers per hour on its launch pad. For the complex maneuver of directing the rocket to its assembly building, sustained wind speeds must not exceed 75 kilometers per hour.
After two failed launch attempts a few weeks ago due to technical problems, this new setback is not well received by NASA. Artemis is their new flagship program, which should allow humans to return to the Moon. Fifty years after the last mission of the Apollo program, Artemis-1 is to be used to verify that the Orion capsule, on top of the rocket, is safe to transport a crew to the Moon in the future.