The storm delays the launch of NASA’s megarocket once again

published on Saturday, September 24, 2022 at 6:37 p.m.

Le sort s’acharne sur la première mission Artémis: après déjà deux tentatives ratées pour cause de problèmes techniques, le décollage de la nouvelle méga-fusée de la Nasa vers la Lune ne pourra pas avoir lieu mardi comme prévu, cette fois à cause d ‘a storm.

Under the threat of Tropical Storm Ian, currently south of Jamaica, the rocket must be prepared to be returned to its assembly building, NASA announced Saturday.

The storm is expected to become a hurricane in the next few days and move up the Gulf of Mexico towards Florida, where the Kennedy Space Center is located from where the rocket will take off.

“On Saturday morning, the teams decided to forego preparation for Tuesday’s liftoff date to allow them to set up the systems to transport the rocket … in the assembly building,” NASA wrote in a statement. blog post.

However, the final decision to retract the rocket will not be made until Sunday, “to allow more data to be collected” as the weather forecast becomes clearer, it added. If the operation takes place, it would begin “late Sunday morning or Monday morning.”

The current firing period, which runs through October 4, would be lost because there would be no time to get the rocket out on time.

If it is ultimately decided that the rocket can remain on its launch pad, a new liftoff date could potentially be chosen before this period ends.

This “incremental” decision making helps “preserve a launch opportunity if conditions improve,” said NASA Associate Administrator Jim Free.

– New setback –

The next shooting period then extends from October 17 to 31, with one possibility of takeoff per day (except from October 24 to 26 and 28).

The orange and white SLS rocket, 98 meters high, can withstand wind gusts of up to 137 km/h on its launch pad.

For the complex maneuver of directing the rocket to its assembly building, the sustained wind speed must not exceed 75 km/h.

After two liftoff attempts canceled at the last moment a few weeks ago, in particular due to a fuel leak during the filling of the rocket’s tanks, this new setback is not a welcome one for NASA.

Artemis is its new flagship program, which will allow humans to return to the Moon and deliver the first woman and first person of color there.

Fifty years after the last mission of the Apollo program, Artémis 1 is to be used to verify that the Orion capsule, on top of the rocket, is safe to transport a crew to the Moon in the future.

For this first mission, Orion will venture up to 64,000 kilometers behind the Moon, farther than any other habitable spacecraft to date. The main objective is to test the resistance of its heat shield, the largest ever built, when it returns to Earth’s atmosphere.

The Artemis program is designed to establish a lasting human presence on the Moon, which will then allow it to be used as a stepping stone to Mars.

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