After meeting Saturday morning, NASA’s Artemis team decided to forego the September 27 launch and is now preparing the Mega Moon rocket stack for rollback.
“On Tuesday, Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to move northward through the eastern Gulf of Mexico as a hurricane off Florida’s southwest coast. A cold front will push south across northern Florida,” CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said. .
“A combination of these weather factors will allow for heavy rain chances on Tuesday across much of the Florida peninsula, including the Cape Canaveral area. Showers and thunderstorms are forecast to be widespread across the region. Tropical Storm Ian is likely to produce tropical storm force winds arriving across Central Florida early Tuesday night.”
Meanwhile, the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft continue to sit on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Team members continue to monitor the weather as they decide when to roll the rocket stack into the Automotive Assembly Building at Kennedy. The U.S. Space Force, National Hurricane Center and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will receive data from NASA to inform their decision.
Engineers have postponed a final decision on when to withdraw while they gather more data and analysis. If the team decides to return the rocket back into the building, that process will begin Sunday night or early Monday.
These arrangements can shorten the three-day process that would normally take a spacecraft to roll in. Once the vehicle rolls in slow-moving crawler traffic, it can take 10 hours or more.
The rocket is on a stack pad and can withstand winds of up to 85 miles per hour (74.1 knots). If the layer were to roll back into the building, it would need winds of less than 46 miles per hour (40 knots).
On Friday, the Artemis team said October 2 was the backup release date. But a new release date is unlikely to be set until the withdrawal decision is taken.
“The agency is taking a step-wise approach to its decision-making process. If weather forecasts improve, the opportunity could begin in the current window,” a NASA release said.
Obstacles to Launch The Artemis I mission did not fly through any precipitation. According to the Space Force, missile controls are designed to avoid natural and rocket-induced lightning strikes that can damage rockets and endanger public safety.
Rocket-induced lightning is formed when a large rocket flies through a strong enough atmospheric electric field, so a cloud that does not produce natural lightning may still cause rocket-induced lightning, the Space Force said.
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