NASA's Artemis 1 launch could be affected by tropical storm
The world is holding its breath as NASA's historic Artemis 1 mission's launch nears. Its third launch attempt on Tuesday (September 27) could face an unlikely but formidable foe. It's called Tropical Depression Nine, a developing storm in the Caribbean that could potentially become a major hurricane. Guess where it's headed? Florida's way—yes, the same place where NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is.
Why does this story matter?
- With the three-part Artemis program, NASA plans to build a continuous human presence on Moon. The Artemis 1 mission, however, has been through a lot of delays and cost overruns.
- Therefore, it will be a huge relief for NASA if the Artemis 1 lifts off from the ground sooner than later.
- The tropical storm, however, reduces the chances of that happening on Tuesday.
Space Force predicts poor weather conditions on Tuesday
There are chances that the tropical storm located south of the Dominican Republic could head Florida's way. And that's where Kennedy Space Center, from which the rocket is set to launch, is located. According to the weather forecast by the US Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron, there is only a 20% chance that the weather will cooperate on Tuesday.
The mission successfully dealt with two challenges this week
Artemis 1 successfully dealt with two challenges that may have hurt its chances of a September launch. This week, Artemis engineers completed a fueling demonstration test with only "manageable leaks," giving hope for a launch soon. NASA also managed to get an extension from the Space Force for the rocket's Flight Termination System (FTS), paving way for a September 27 or October 2 launch.
NASA is thinking about a plan B
Artemis 1's journey has been riddled with challenges so far. Although NASA solved others, the tropical storm is something unsolvable. "Our plan A is to stay to course and to get the launch off on September 27 (sic)," said Mike Bolger, NASA's exploration ground systems manager. However, he admitted that a plan B might be required.
What is NASA's plan B for Artemis 1?
Bolger said, "If we were to go down to plan B we need a couple of days to pivot from our current tanking test or launch configuration to execute rollback and get back into...[Vehicle Assembly Building]." NASA should take a call on the launch Saturday.