The long-awaited launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) lunar rocket has been delayed until mid-November after NASA abandoned its planned Sept. 27 launch due to the impact of Hurricane Ian. launch plan. NASA announced Friday that it aims to complete the launch of Artemis I in the time window between Nov. 12 and Nov. 27.
NASA had previously thought the next SLS launch could take place in October, but the attempt was eventually called off after NASA decided to roll the rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to escape the storm. NASA successfully secured the massive rocket on Tuesday after sending the giant rocket through orbit in a slow, hours-long trek to the VAB.
Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 hurricane but weakened to a tropical storm by the time it reached the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday. NASA said there was “no damage to Artemis flight hardware” and that its facilities suffered only “minor water intrusion.”
NASA’s Artemis 1 launch will send an unmanned Orion capsule on a trip around the moon, paving the way for future missions to land the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface. The agency’s first launch attempt was interrupted after the rocket encountered engine problems, while the second launch was hampered by a leak when engineers filled the rocket with frozen liquid hydrogen fuel. Subsequent tests of the rocket’s fuel system showed that the leak was still present, but at a more “controllable” level.
Now that the rocket is back at the VAB, NASA says it will “prepare for additional inspections” and retest the flight termination system, which the Space Force will use to destroy the rocket if it veers off course.
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