Science

NASA’s megarocket launch to the moon on Tuesday is threatened by a storm – Science et Avenir

Difficulties associated with the first launch of NASA’s new megarocket to the moon.

After two failed launch attempts a few weeks ago due to technical issues, a new attempt scheduled for Tuesday for this Artemis 1 mission is now under threat from a storm forming in the Caribbean.

“Tropical Depression Number Nine” has yet to be named and is currently under the Dominican Republic. But in the coming days, it should turn into a hurricane and rise through the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, where the Kennedy Space Center is located, from where the rocket is supposed to launch.

“Our Plan A is to stay on course and launch on September 27,” Kennedy Center spokesman Mike Bolger said Friday.

“But if we have to go to plan B, we need a few days to turn our back on our current configuration (…) and get the missile back under the protection of its assembly body,” he added.

NASA keeps a close eye on every weather report.

“We will probably make a decision no later than tomorrow morning (Saturday morning, editor’s note) or in the afternoon,” Bolger said.

The orange and white SLS rocket can withstand wind gusts of up to 137 km/h on its launch pad.

If it needs to be covered, the current shooting period, which runs until October 4th, will be skipped. The next period runs from 17 to 31 October with the possibility of one departure per day (except for the period from 24 to 26 and 28 October).

This failure will be a blow to NASA, which has just solved two other problems.

At the very beginning of September, the takeoff was canceled at the last moment due to a leak of liquid hydrogen when filling the tanks with this fuel. The damaged seal has since been replaced, and NASA conducted ground tests this week to verify the repair.

In addition, the US Space Force, which is responsible for public safety, agreed to extend the certification period for the batteries of the rocket’s emergency self-destruct system. This retreat had to be granted in order to be able to fly on Tuesday or the reserve date, 2 October.

On Tuesday, the shooting window should open at 11:37 local time for 70 minutes. If it takes off that day, the mission will last 39 days, before landing in the Pacific Ocean on November 5th.

It will not carry astronauts, Artémis 1 must be used to verify that the Orion capsule on top of the rocket is safe to carry crew to the Moon in the future.

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