NASA’s Artemis I launch called off due to tropical storm

NASA planned to attempt a third attempt at launching its new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), on the Artemis I mission this week. However, due to Tropical Storm Ian that could threaten the Florida coast, the agency has announced it is canceling the launch and is considering rolling the rocket off the launch pad.

A state of emergency has been declared in Florida because of the storm, with Governor Ron DeSantis warning Saturday that the storm could develop into a hurricane. The storm is thought to strengthen today, Sunday, Sept. 25, and is currently heading for Cuba and the Florida coast.

NASA announced on Saturday that it would not proceed with the launch scheduled for Tuesday, September 27, which was supposed to take place from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At a meeting on Saturday morning, the teams decided to forgo preparations for Tuesday’s launch date so that they can configure systems to spin the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft back to the Vehicle Assembly Building. , NASA wrote in an update. “Engineers have postponed a final decision on the role until Sunday, Sept. 25 to allow for additional data collection and analysis.”

Two previous attempts to launch the SLS along with the Orion spacecraft were hampered by technical issues, including an engine problem and a liquid hydrogen fuel leak. To avoid further problems on the third launch attempt, NASA conducted a tank test on the rocket last week.

During the tank test on Wednesday, September 21, the rocket was filled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuel to verify that there were no leakage problems. NASA deemed the test a success, announcing that all objectives had been met after a leak occurred early in the test, but the team managed to fix it by depressurizing and fixing the problem. The launch looked good before the tropical storm news came in.

Now NASA must decide whether to roll the rocket off the launch pad and back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where it is housed — which is not an easy operation and takes time. However, it seems likely that this will be done to protect the missile from a potential storm. NASA says that if it decides to roll the rocket back to the VAB, it would be late at night or early Monday morning. The agency has not announced any dates for when a future launch attempt could take place.

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