Hurricane Nicole has thrown another curveball at the Artemis mission, with the first storm to make US landfall in decades forcing NASA to again delay the start of its return to the moon.
Originally, Artemis I was due to re-launch on Monday 14 November, however in a statement NASA says its decision will: “…enable staff to manage the potential risks of the weather hazard.”
The re-launch is to now take place on November 16 at the earliest.
“NASA is continuing to monitor Tropical Storm Nicole and has decided to re-target a launch for the Artemis I mission for Wednesday, Nov. 16, pending safe conditions for employees to return to work, as well as inspections after the storm has passed,” NASA says.
“Adjusting the target launch date will allow the workforce to tend to the needs of their families and homes, and provide sufficient logistical time to get back into launch status following the storm.”
Although the launch date has been pushed back by two days, the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft will remain secured on the launch pad, rather than be rolled back into the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building, as was done recently for Hurricane Ian.
Winds expected at the pad are not expected to breach the structural tolerances of the SLS, which is also designed to withstand heavy rains on the launch pad.
However Orion and the SLS’s core, interim cryogenic propulsion, and booster stages have been powered down.
“Teams are poised to resume work as soon as weather and Kennedy Center status allows,” NASA says.
“Once back on-site, technicians will perform walkdowns and inspections at the pad to assess the status of the rocket and spacecraft as soon as practicable.”
The push-back is the latest in a string of weather and technical delays that have kept Artemis I grounded since its first launch window opened in August.
Artemis I is the first in three missions that will culminate with humans again walking on the moon. This first mission is an uncrewed flight into orbit around the moon.