NASA's Artemis I launch is delayed once again due to hurricane weather
Hold onto your hats because NASA has delayed the launch of Artemis I once again.
The Space Launch System (SLS), NASA's rocket for its uncrewed Artemis I moon mission, had just rolled back to launchpad 39B at Kennedy Space Center last week in preparation for a third launch attempt.
However, a powerful storm is brewing near Florida, and NASA has taken the precaution of delaying the launch attempt from November 14 to November 16, the space agency announced in a blog post.
Hurricane delays Artemis I once again
Tropical storm Nicole is currently raging south of Florida, though it is likely to become a hurricane and make an approach toward the coast of Florida in the coming days.
NASA points out that SLS is designed to withstand 85 mph (74.4 knots) winds and heavy rain and that current forecasts don't exceed those wind speeds. However, the space agency points out that "adjusting the target launch date will allow the workforce to tend to the needs of their families and homes and provide sufficient logistical time to get back into launch status following the storm."
As teams continue to monitor Tropical Storm Nicole, we've decided to re-target the launch for the #Artemis I mission to Wednesday, Nov. 16, pending safe conditions for employees to return to work. https://t.co/08yHOd2a17 pic.twitter.com/QfWhjyTlE7— NASA (@NASA) November 8, 2022
However, a "ride-out" team of employees will remain at Kennedy Space Center during the storm to monitor conditions at the launchpad. NASA also says it has powered down various systems of SLS, secured components, and checked for nearby objects that could become flying debris during the storm.
This isn't the first time a hurricane has delayed the launch of Artemis I, as Hurricane Ian also stalled NASA's launch plans in late September. A two-day delay might not be a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it does add up to NASA's long string of Artemis I delays and adds extra pressure on launch coordinators for the heavily criticized Artemis program.
Long-delayed Artemis program draws criticism
The Artemis program has been delayed for many years and has faced criticism for going over budget and not utilizing reusable technology. In an August interview with IE, former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said the SLS program was "not progress" and that she "could not have imagined how late and how over budget it would be."
However, if all goes to plan, Artemis I will kickstart a program enabling NASA to establish a permanent presence on the moon. NASA has long stated that the Artemis program is a stepping stone toward the eventual human exploration of Mars. Once the hurricane has passed next week, NASA will have a two-hour launch window starting at 1:04 am. ET on November 16 (10:04 pm PT on November 15). Stay posted for more updates in the lead-up to the historic launch of Artemis I.
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