Definitely! Will Artemis 1 ever see the Moon? The space mission, which should mark the renewal of the lunar conquest, should have been launched in the summer and then in early September. Every time, technical problems decided otherwise. Finally, Tuesday, September 27 was going to be the big day, but again, cancellation.
On this occasion, the fault is not on the side of the tanks or in any hydrogen leak. The problem is called Ian, a hurricane that is about to hit Cuba and the Cayman Islands. The latest data from the American surveillance center point to winds currently above 120 km/h and “rapid reinforcement in the next few days”. The hurricane would attack Florida from the west coast, below Tampa. But given the width of the peninsula, strong winds and heavy rains can’t be ruled out on Florida’s east coast, where Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center are located.
A return to the hangar that should last about ten hours.
Since this weekend, NASA officials have been tearing their hair out about the future of the launch. There was still a small firing window on October 2, but on the condition that the rocket be left on its launch pad, i.e. risk the hurricane hitting it. After much hesitation based on weather reports, the US agency finally decided on Monday, September 26, to return the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft to the garage. The Artemis mission will not take off this week.
In detail, the walk back to the hangar will start Monday night US time, which is very early Tuesday morning for the French. It takes about ten hours to move the rocket, and this choice should allow space center employees to take shelter after operations as well.
Although predictable, this decision is a disappointment to many engineers and researchers involved in this mission. Especially since the next launch possibility, at the end of October or beginning of November, is likely to experience, again, bad weather. Artemis 1 should pave the way for subsequent manned missions, which should land humans on the Moon starting in 2025.