Science

NASA weighs plan to launch Artemis 1 rocket to the Moon ahead of Subtropical Storm Nicole

NASA is sticking with the November 14 launch date for its historic Artemis 1 lunar mission, even as a subtropical storm is developing in the Atlantic Ocean and looks set to head towards the Kennedy Space Center.

Despite a potentially dangerous subtropical storm brewing in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida’s Space Coast, NASA says it will keep the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket of the Artemis 1 mission and the Orion spacecraft on the launch pad.

“Based on current forecast data, managers have determined that the Space Launch System rocket and Orion will remain at launch pad 39B,” the agency said in a statement released Monday (November 7). Until the strength of the storm increases, NASA is only one week away from the first launch of the Artemis program, in which humanity will return to the Moon to establish a permanent presence on the Moon and enable future deep space exploration.

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NASA said in a statement that Kennedy Space Center Florida personnel “will continue to monitor the weather, ensure all personnel are safe, and will assess the status of the Artemis 1 mission launch attempt on Monday, November 14, as we will continue to receive updates.” weather warnings.

The agency is working with the US Space Force and the US National Hurricane Center to monitor the storm, currently known as Subtropical Storm Nicole. The National Hurricane Center issued a statement. (will open in a new tab) on Monday (November 7), which predicts a dangerous storm surge is possible as early as Wednesday (November 9) across the entire east coast of Florida, where the SLS is waiting at Launch Pad 39B for a launch attempt next week.

Heavy rain is expected by Thursday (November 10) across much of the Florida peninsula, and the Space Force Delta 45 Space Launcher, which monitors the nearby Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral, released a statement. (will open in a new tab) Surface winds of over 58 mph (93 km/h) are forecast to hit before Friday (November 11).

Because of these forecasts, Kennedy Space Center is currently in Hurricane State (HURCON) IV, which the agency says “includes completing checklists and preparing for the hurricane as the agency continues to prioritize its employees in the Kennedy area.”

Previously, Hurricane Yan forced the agency to roll the SLS back to the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building in late September to protect it, and also gave engineers time to fix fuel leak issues that forced previous launch attempts to be cancelled.

If a storm doesn’t force NASA to delay the November 14 mission launch attempt, Artemis 1 will send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a mission to and from lunar orbit. In later missions of the Artemis program, crews will land near the south pole of the moon in 2025 or 2026 and work to establish a sustainable human colony on our planet’s moon by 2030.

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