NASA will return its Artemis rocket and spacecraft to its primary hangar, ending any chance of a launch in the next several days.
NASA will return its Artemis rocket and spacecraft to its primary hangar as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida, ending any chance of a launch in the next several days.
The move means the next attempt to launch the already-delayed mission will likely come in late October or mid-November, according to a schedule from the US space agency. Program officials had hoped to lift off on Oct. 2 before the latest change.
NASA announced the decision Monday, as the latest forecasts for Hurricane Ian didn’t show improved conditions for the launch site at Kennedy Space Center on the eastern coast of Florida. “The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system,” NASA wrote in a blog post.
The rollback will begin at 11 p.m. local time.
Over the weekend, NASA stood down from a launch attempt that could have taken place on Tuesday due to the tropical storm off the coast of South America. That storm, which has since strengthened into Hurricane Ian, is expected to make landfall in Florida this week.
NASA had completed a key fueling test on Sept. 21 of its Space Launch System rocket, the massive vehicle that will send an uncrewed capsule around the moon. The fueling test was meant to determine if NASA had successfully fixed a leak that stymied an attempt to launch the rocket on Sept. 3. NASA said that the test met all its objectives, despite leaks and technical issues that occurred.
As late as Friday, NASA had held out hope that a launch attempt was possible for Sept. 27 despite the weather forecasts.
The SLS rocket is designed to handle wind gusts as strong as 74 knots at the launchpad. It takes NASA roughly three days to prepare and return the SLS back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, a massive hangar used to house the rocket.
The SLS is a primary component of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to send the first woman and first person of color to the moon. NASA is gearing up to launch the SLS on its debut flight, called Artemis I, sending an uncrewed capsule called Orion around the Moon. The mission is meant to validate the hardware before people can fly on board.