Tropical Storm Nicole Beats Florida and NASA’s Artemis 1 Rocket
Tropical Storm Nicole ravaged central Florida on Thursday (Nov. 10), where NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket awaits its launch pad on the state’s Space Coast.
The storm came just south of Cape Canaveralhome of NASAs Kennedy Space Center (KSC), in the early morning hours on Thursday, while it was still rated a hurricane, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). NOAA radar images showed the storm producing sustained winds of 75 mph (opens in new tab) (120 km/h) when it reached the coast of Florida at around 3 a.m. (0800 GMT).
Satellite images show the storm moving west-northwest at a speed of 22 km/h, where it will move through central Florida throughout Thursday (Nov. 10) morning and into the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the storm weakening as it made landfall, there’s still a chance that high winds and flooding could damage or otherwise further delay the launch of NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket as it braces for the storm on Launch Pad 39B at KSC .
Tropical Storm Nicole is now centered over Central Florida, creating “strong winds, dangerous storm surge and waves, and heavy rainfall,” according to the National Hurricane Center (opens in new tab) in Miami. The storm remains a life-threatening situation, the center writes.
The SLS vehicle is designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 85 mph (137 km/h), NASA said in a statement. statement on November 8 (opens in new tab). The sustained winds from Tropical Storm Nicole were just below that rating when the storm made landfall, but gusts have been reported that have exceeded that rating (opens in new tab), according to Spaceflight Now. The Orlando Sentinel reported that some sensors on Launch Pad 39B have a maximum gust of 100 mph (opens in new tab) at 4:15 a.m. EST (0915 GMT) while winds averaged 85 mph.
In terms of the heavy rainfall the storm brings, NASA writes in the statement that SLS “is designed to withstand heavy rainfall on the launch pad and the spacecraft’s hatches are secured to prevent water ingress. “
Live streams from KSC (opens in new tab) courtesy of NASASpaceflight.com show Artemis 1’s Space Launch System (SLS) missile sitting on the trail as heavy rain obscures it from view. The camera pointed at the rocket occasionally shakes in high winds as Tropical Storm Nicole whirls over us.
It is not yet known if the storm will cause further delays in the launch of the highly anticipated launch of the Artemis 1 lunar mission. NASA already postponed launch until Wednesday (November 16) to help staff shelter from the storm. This isn’t the first time the launch has been delayed by a storm; Hurricane Ian in late September forced NASA to roll back SLS to the Vehicle Assembly Building for shelter while critical repairs are made glitching tank valves were executed.
As the Artemis 1 launch continues to be delayed, there are growing concerns that some parts of the SLS vehicle could expire based on current NASA analyzes of their lifespans. If the launch is delayed beyond mid-December, the agency will need to conduct further assessments to determine whether the vehicle’s boosters and other components remain launch-worthy.
When Artemis 1 is launched, it will send the Orion spacecraft in orbit around the moon and put a installment of cubesats perform various scientific experiments. The mission is designed to collect data that will inform subsequent Artemis missions, where crews will land near the moon south pole and eventually establish a permanent human presence on our moon.
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