After meeting Saturday morning, NASA’s Artemis team decided to forgo the Sept. 27 launch opportunity and is now preparing the megamoon rocket stack for pushback.
“On Tuesday, Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to move north across the eastern Gulf of Mexico as a hurricane, just off the southwestern coast of Florida. A cold front will also cover northern Florida to the south,” said CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink. .
“The combination of these weather factors will increase the chance of rain across much of the Florida panhandle on Tuesday, including the Cape Canaveral area. Showers and thunderstorms are forecast to be numerous and widespread throughout the region. Winds with Tropical Storm Ian’s strength could also arrive as early as Tuesday night in central Florida.”
Meanwhile, the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft remain on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Team members continue to monitor the weather as they make a decision on when to bring the rocket stack back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy. NASA will receive input from the US Space Force, the National Hurricane Center, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to inform its decision.
Engineers have deferred their final decision on when to roll back while they gather additional data and analysis. If the team decides to push the rocket back inside the building, that process would start on Sunday night or early Monday.
The preparations can shorten the typical three-day process it takes to roll the spacecraft back inside. And once the vehicle is rolling on the slow-moving tracked carrier, it can take 10 hours or more.
The rocket stack can stay on the pad and withstand winds of up to 85 miles per hour (74.1 knots). If the stack needs to roll back into the building, it can handle sustained winds of less than 46 miles per hour (40 knots).
On Friday, the Artemis team said that October 2 was a backup release date. But it’s unlikely a new release date will be set until the decision to roll back has been made.
“The agency is taking a phased approach in its decision-making process to allow the agency to protect its employees by completing a safe list in time so they can address the needs of their families while also protecting the option to move forward.” with another launch opportunity in the current window if weather forecasts improve,” according to a NASA statement.
Restrictions on launch require that the Artemis I mission not fly through any precipitation. The launch restrictions are designed to prevent natural and rocket-induced lightning strikes to rockets in flight, which could damage the rocket and endanger public safety, according to the Space Force.
Rocket-fired lightning forms when a large rocket flies through a strong enough atmospheric electric field that a cloud that doesn’t produce natural lightning could still cause rocket-fired lightning, according to the Space Force.
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