Launch of NASA’s moon rocket delayed again, this time by a storm

Launch of NASA’s moon rocket delayed again, this time by a storm


NASA delayed its long-delayed unmanned mission to the moon again Tuesday as Tropical Storm Nicole headed for Florida’s east coast, officials said.

A launch attempt that was scheduled for Nov. 14 will now take place on Nov. 16, Jim Free, a senior US space agency official, said on Twitter.

It’s the third delay to the much-anticipated launch in as many months.

“Our people are the most important aspect of our mission,” wrote Free, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development. “Adjusting our target launch date for #Artemis I will prioritize employee safety and allow our team to attend to the needs of their families and homes.”

The Atlantic storm was expected to develop into a hurricane Wednesday near the Bahamas before making landfall in Florida either later that evening or early Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

A hurricane warning has been issued near Kennedy Space Center, where the rocket – NASA’s most powerful ever – is scheduled to lift off.

With Nicole’s strength increasing, “NASA … has decided to reschedule a launch for the Artemis I mission for Wednesday, November 16 pending safe conditions for staff to return to work, as well as post-storm inspections.” . ‘ the agency said in a statement Tuesday night.

NASA added that a launch occurring during a two-hour window that opens at 1:04 a.m. EST (0604 GMT) on November 16 would result in a splashdown on Friday, December 11.

A backup launch date has been set for November 19.

NASA said it would leave the giant SLS rocket on the launch pad where it was placed a few days earlier.

After two launch attempts this summer were aborted due to technical problems, the rocket had to be returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building for protection from Hurricane Ian.

Last week, the 98-meter rocket was rolled back on a giant platform known as a crawler-transporter to minimize vibration.

Earlier Tuesday, sustained winds near 65 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) packed Nicole with higher gusts and should get even stronger, according to the NHC.

Some experts have raised concerns that the missile, estimated to cost several billion dollars, could be damaged by debris from the hurricane if left unprotected.

“To stay on the pad, we want to see peak winds less than 74.1 knots, and that’s kind of a key requirement that we’re tracking,” Chief Rocket Engineer John Blevins said.

The SLS rocket is designed to withstand winds of 85 miles per hour (74.4 knots) at a 60-foot level with structural room to maneuver, NASA said. It is designed to withstand heavy rainfall on the launch pad, and the spacecraft’s hatches have been secured to prevent water ingress.

Dubbed Artemis 1, the unmanned mission will bring the United States one step closer to returning astronauts to the moon, five decades after humans last set foot on the lunar surface.

The goal of Artemis 1, named after Apollo’s twin sister, is to test the SLS rocket and the Orion crew capsule that sits atop it.

Mannequins represent the astronauts on the mission and record acceleration, vibration and radiation values.

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