NASA Artemis 1 mission launch now postponed to November 16
Tropical storm Nicole has delayed the launch of NASA's Artemis 1 mission. As per the new schedule, there will be a two-hour launch window starting at 1:04 am EST (11:34 am IST) on November 16. The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft are currently at Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Earlier, the launch was scheduled to happen on November 14.
Why does this story matter?
- The Artemis 1 space mission has been delayed for the fourth time in a row.
- Earlier delays were due to an engine problem, a fuel leak, and Hurricane Ian. And now, a tropical storm has wrecked the plans of NASA.
- We will have to wait to see if the ambitious $4 billion mission finally gets to leave the ground on the scheduled date.
Here's the official statement from NASA about the delay
As teams continue to monitor Tropical Storm Nicole, we've decided to re-target the launch for the #Artemis I mission to Wednesday, Nov. 16, pending safe conditions for employees to return to work. https://t.co/08yHOd2a17 pic.twitter.com/QfWhjyTlE7— NASA (@NASA) November 8, 2022
NASA's hurricane preparedness protocol includes a "ride-out" team
The Kennedy Space Center has been placed in the HURCON (Hurricane Condition) III status. This includes securing facilities, property, and equipment at the space center, as well as briefing and deploying the "ride-out" team. The personnel on the ride-out team will remain in a safe location at Kennedy throughout the storm to assess center-wide conditions, including the flight hardware for the Artemis 1 mission.
Thankfully, the SLS rocket is designed to withstand stormy conditions
According to the current forecasts regarding the tropical storm, high winds are likely to pose the greatest risk at the launch pad. Fortunately, the SLS rocket is built to hold out against heavy rain and winds. It is designed to withstand 137km/h winds at the 60-foot level. The hatches on the rocket and the Orion spacecraft have been secured to prevent water intrusion.
The team has powered down several components
"In preparation for the storm, teams have powered down the Orion spacecraft, SLS core stage, interim cryogenic propulsion stage, and boosters," NASA explained in its blog. The team will resume work as soon as the storm passes and conditions are favorable. The launch pad will be thoroughly inspected to assess the status of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft before take off.
The backup launch date is on November 19
In case the conditions are not favorable for launch on November 16, NASA has fixed a backup launch date on November 19. If the take off happens on November 16, the splashdown or return of the rocket from the Moon will happen on December 11.