NASA will not attempt to thread the climate needle with its Artemis 1 moon mission in any case.
The space company had been concentrating on Tuesday (Sept. 27) for the launch of Artemis 1 from Kennedy Space Center (KSC), on Florida’s Atlantic coast. That remained the plan as recently as Friday (Sept. 23), although NASA officers pressured that they had been holding a detailed eye on a brewing storm within the Caribbean known as Tropical Depression 9.
Tropical Depression 9 intensified into Tropical Storm Ian late Friday and is predicted to develop in energy additional. It’s transferring northward, and most fashions predict that it’ll hit Florida by the center of subsequent week as a bona fide hurricane, in accordance with the National Hurricane Center.
NASA actually would not need the multibillion-dollar Artemis 1 stack — a Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket topped with an Orion space capsule — out on the pad in hurricane-force winds, so it is getting the wheels turning on a potential rollback to the safety of KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). And that prep work takes a Sept. 27 launch off the desk.
“During a meeting Saturday morning, teams decided to stand down on preparing for the Tuesday launch date to allow them to configure systems for rolling back the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to the Vehicle Assembly Building,” NASA officers wrote in an update this morning (opens in new tab) (Sept. 24). “Engineers deferred a final decision about the roll to Sunday, Sept. 25, to allow for additional data gathering and analysis.”
If the workforce does resolve to maintain Artemis 1 on the pad, the mission might nonetheless conceivably hit the backup launch date of Oct. 2. A rollback to the cavernous VAB, nonetheless, would nearly actually take that day out of play as nicely.
Artemis 1 is the primary mission in NASA’s Artemis program, which goals to determine a everlasting human presence on and round the moon by the top of the 2020s. Artemis 1 will ship Orion on an uncrewed journey to lunar orbit and again. If all goes nicely with the flight, Artemis 2 will launch astronauts across the moon in 2024 and Artemis 3 will put boots down close to the lunar south pole in 2025 or 2026.
The Artemis 1 stack has been at KSC’s Launch Pad 39B since mid-August. NASA initially tried to launch the mission on Aug. 29 and Sept. 3 however was foiled by technical glitches each instances.
The Sept. 3 situation was a leak of liquid hydrogen propellant at an interface between the SLS core stage and the rocket’s cell launch tower. The mission workforce mounted that drawback by changing two seals within the affected space. The effectiveness of that restore was demonstrated throughout a lengthy fueling test on the pad on Wednesday (Sept. 21).
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e book concerning the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).