Tropical Storm Ion forces NASA to postpone megarocket launch

SLS at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad.

SLS at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad.
Picture: NASA

Tropical Storm Ian, named the ninth of the current Atlantic hurricane season, has disrupted NASA’s plan to launch the Artemis 1 mission on Tuesday, September 27.

Late As of Friday Afternoon, NASA officials Removes normally Caribbean storm system, but the space agency is later Wisely, the tropical ion system is now known as something to worry about.

A Blog In a release this morning, NASA said it was “presenting the possibility of a launch” and was “preparing to retreat” while continuing to monitor weather forecasts associated with the tropical storm. The 321-foot-tall (98-meter) megarocket is currently parked at Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, preparing for NASA’s Artemis 1 mission, in which an uncrewed Orion capsule will attempt to trek to the Moon. Again.

But with NASA canceling Tuesday’s initial launch, the agency has yet to decide whether it wants to return the rocket to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) — a giant hangar that will provide shelter when a storm hits the region. It blows my mind that NASA is considering abandoning SLS and Orion. The entire system—including Orion—It cost $50 billion to build And Each launch of the rocket costs about $4 billion. And with constant insistence by NASA When it comes to safety, it’s time for the space agency to practice what it preaches.

The SLS can withstand 85-mph (137-kilometer-per-hour) wind speeds, while Rollback can withstand sustained winds reaching 46 mph (74 kph), NASA officials explained at a press conference yesterday. This is a relief, but there is a chance that the rocket will be damaged by wind-blown material. In my opinion, NASA is better off not taking that chance.

With Tuesday’s launch postponed, teams are now configuring systems in preparation for an eventual rollback; engineers deferred their decision “to allow for additional data gathering and analysis” and will make a decision on Sunday. Should a roll back happen, it would start either late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Image for article titled Tropical Storm Ian Forces NASA to Postpone Upcoming Launch of Megarocket

Graphic: NOAA

That Tropical Storm Ian could reach Kennedy Space Center is a distinct possibility. Projections from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center show Cyclonic winds will reach the region on Tuesday evening. NASA says it will take two days for the VAB to roll the SLS, which won’t leave the space agency long. In addition to sheltering the rocket, NASA must also focus on ensuring that its crews are safe and seek shelter in the event of a storm.

“The agency is taking a stepwise approach to its decision-making process. If weather forecasts improve, the opportunity will begin in the current window,” NASA wrote.

Tuesday’s launch won’t happen, but the Eastern Command, the branch of the Space Force that oversees launches from Florida’s east coast, made an exception yesterday, saying NASA would likely launch on Sunday, Oct. 2. The next launch attempt was NASA’s third, the SLS and Orion, which were sent into space on August 29 and September 3 with technical problems resulting from scrubs.

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