Science

NASA: New storm pushes back Artemis I mission

Apparently, NASA has been having a lot of bad luck with the weather lately.

After Hurricane Yan, which forced the Space Launch System back into the Vertical Assembly Building shelter early last month, Tropical Storm Nicole is now approaching the Kennedy Space Center.

During its passage over the Bahamas, weather services recorded wind gusts of more than 110 km / h. Thus, this phenomenon is certainly violent, but much less threatening than Yan, whose wind speeds reached 240 km / h.

But the launch base in Florida just passed the HURCON III protocol (stage 3 of the US hurricane warning). This means that all buildings and equipment are protected. Most of the employees were released to look after their families during the storm. NASA also announced the deployment of a specialized team that will remain in place to monitor the development of the situation.

Launch postponed to October 16

In particular, they will have to keep an eye on SLS, a huge launcher that will soon launch the Artemis program. He has just returned to his launch site, which he had to evacuate due to the threat of Hurricane Yang (see our article). Fortunately, it is designed for wind speeds up to 130 km/h; Therefore, NASA believes that the machine will be able to withstand Nicole’s passage without flinching. So he won’t have to go back and forth to his hangar to escape.

This is good news for the agency’s roadmap. Because moving a mastodon weighing 2600 tons to a height of one hundred meters cannot be improvised; it is a journey that lasts more than 10 hours in total, with very significant logistical constraints. Instead, technical teams shut down all on-board electronics and protected critical systems, starting with the engines, to keep them out of the water.

Technical teams will be called to the site as soon as conditions normalize. They will then run standard checks to make sure the SLS has withstood the torrent. Once this final check is complete, all that’s left is to wait for the next filming window, October 16 – two days after the last announced date.

If all goes well, the SLS should take off next Wednesday. In the event of a new failure, new opportunities will appear on November 19, 22, 23, 24 and 25. With the exception of a major new glitch that seems unlikely right now, we’re making an appointment with you next week to follow up on the long-awaited start to this historic mission. Better late than never !

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