Tropical Storm Nicole pushes Artemis 1 moon launch to November 16
Mother Nature is particularly unfriendly to NASA’s highly anticipated Artemis 1 moon mission.
The agency planned to launch Artemis 1 from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida next Monday (Nov. 14). But Tropical Storm Nicole descends on Florida’s Atlantic coast, so NASA has postponed its scheduled launch for two days, to Nov. 16.
“Adjusting the target launch date will help workers meet the needs of their families and homes and provide enough logistical time to get back into launch status after the storm,” NASA officials said in an emailed statement. Tuesday evening (November 4). 8).
Artemis 1 was originally supposed to launch at the end of August, but faults the target date pushed back one month. And then Hurricane Ian boiled in the Atlantic, forcing NASA… roll the Artemis 1 stack from KSC’s Launch Pad 39B and back in the facility’s massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) in late September.
Artemis 1 stayed in the VAB for more than a month, as members of the mission team performed various repair and maintenance work. The vehicle rolled back onto the pad on November 4, and it will remain there until Nicole’s landfall. The strengthening storm is expected to hit Florida early Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane. according to CNN (opens in new tab).
“The SLS rocket is designed to withstand 85 mph (74.4 knots) winds at the 60-foot structural margin level,” NASA officials wrote in Tuesday’s update. “Current forecasts predict that the biggest risks on the platform are high winds that are not expected to exceed the SLS design. The rocket is designed to withstand heavy rain on the launch pad, and the spacecraft’s hatches are secured to prevent intrusion from water.”
KSC is currently in Hurricane Condition (HURCON) III status, meaning site personnel are securing property and equipment and deploying a “ride-out team” that will remain in the center during the storm to ensure that everything is going well.
The November 16 launch is scheduled to take place over a two-hour window opening at 1:04 a.m. EST (0604 GMT). If Artemis 1 gets off the ground on that date, the mission will end on December 11 with an ocean splash through Orion.
If Artemis 1 can’t fly on Nov. 16, the next launch opportunity will come on Nov. 19, NASA officials said.
Mike Wall is the author of “Outside (opens in new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrial 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).
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