With Hurricane Ian threatening, NASA finally threw in the towel on Saturday’s attempted launch of the Artemis I mission to the moon from Kennedy Space Center.
On Sunday, managers said they would wait longer before making a decision on whether to return the 5.75 million-pound, 322-foot-tall Space Launch System rocket, mobile launcher and Orion spacecraft back to the Vehicle’s safety. Assembly building.
In an update posted on NASA’s website Sunday night, that decision won’t be made until Monday, and the potential rollback won’t begin until Monday or Tuesday.
“Managers met Sunday evening to review the latest data on the storm from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Space Force and the National Hurricane Center and decided to meet again Monday to allow additional data to be gathered overnight before deciding when . to return NASA continues to prioritize its employees while protecting the Artemis I rocket and spacecraft system,” the update said.
Initially, NASA said the retreat could begin Sunday night or early Monday.
With each forecast update, the impact of the storm’s arrival continues to move further away from the Space Coast. According to initial forecasts, the Space Coast could experience tropical storm-force winds Tuesday morning around the same time NASA plans to launch.
Tropical Storm Ian, currently located in the central Caribbean Sea, is forecast to become a hurricane Sunday night or Monday morning and then move north over Cuba to the Gulf of Mexico. Its center is forecast to be 100 miles off the southwest coast of Florida on Wednesday, and it could potentially make landfall anywhere from the Panhandle to Fort Myers as a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 105 mph by late Friday.
The consensus track as of 11 a.m. Sunday is the center of the storm targeting the Big Bend south of Tallahassee.
“The agency takes a step-by-step approach to the decision-making process that allows the agency to protect its employees by providing them with a safe cycle in time to meet the needs of their families, while maintaining the option to move forward with another employee. run the opportunity in the current window if weather forecasts improve,” the initial statement said on Saturday.
In a briefing Friday, mission managers noted that the rocket is certified to withstand 85 mph sustained winds on the launch pad. It will take about three days to prepare the equipment for the trip and make the slow 4-mile trip from Launch Pad 39-B to VAB. Earlier, officials said the rolls to and from the VAB could put more stress on the apparatus, so it’s preferable to stay on the launch pad if they can.
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“We have a solid design, but we want to protect the car,” said SLS chief engineer John Blevins.
If the managers choose to stay put, the next opportunity to start work in this window is Sunday, October. 2, a 109-minute window, opens at 2:52 p.m. and takes off for a roughly 41-day mission, landing in November. 11.
After that, NASA will have to wait until the next available window in October. Nov. 17-31 Dec. 12-27 and Dec. 9-23. Each window has only certain days during which the Earth and Moon are in the correct position for the planned mission.
Artemis I is an uncrewed mission combining a mobile launcher, a Space Launch System rocket, and the Orion spacecraft. SLS’s 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff will be the most powerful rocket ever launched from Earth, surpassing the Saturn V rockets from the Apollo missions.
The Orion spacecraft will be sent on a trans-lunar injection, which it plans to send 40,000 miles beyond the moon, 280,000 miles away. It will complete several orbits of the moon over several weeks before returning to Earth, generating 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit of heat, coming in at 24,500 mph, faster than any human-rated spacecraft has ever attempted re-entry.
The goal is to make sure Orion can withstand extremes to keep people safe on future missions. If successful, Artemis II could fly a crew into lunar orbit in 2024, and Artemis III could fly in 2025 to return humans, including the first woman, to the lunar surface for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972.
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