Hurricane Ian repels NASA’s Artemis launch

NASA team leader This The Artemis Plan for the Moon Mission Really want to go on with their maiden spaceflight – scheduled for tomorrow morning. But as Hurricane Ian slams toward the Florida launch pad, it’s time to move the massive Space Launch System rocket to safety.

The space agency will roll the rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for another launch opportunity — but that could mean a delay of several weeks. The team has yet to set a date for the new attempt, although the backup window, once planned for October 2, now looks almost doomed. “Once the storm has passed, the team will conduct post-storm checks and will make a decision to return to the launch pad for launch,” Tiffany Fairley, a NASA spokesperson at Kennedy Space Center, wrote in an email to Wired. “

After a series of delays this summer, the Artemis team hopes to finally Launching an unmanned rocket to the moon Kennedy from eastern Florida. But there are concerns about wind damage to the spacecraft and risks to space center personnel. Heading into the weekend, NASA weather officials charted the trajectory of Ian, a tropical cyclone that appeared to be intensifying and headed for landfall in Florida on launch day. The rocket can only withstand sustained winds of up to 74 knots while on the launch pad, Mike Folger, the Kennedy Discovery Ground Systems program manager, said in a Sept. 23 news conference. If these forecasts are correct, the storm could soon turn into a hurricane, with winds exceeding that speed hitting Florida’s Space Coast.

According to a post on NASA, NASA will have to consider not only the weather criteria for launching the rocket, but also its transfer to a shelter. NASA’s Artemis BlogBecause the trip takes up to 12 hours and the rocket can only withstand winds of up to 40 knots on its tracks to and from the assembly building, the Artemis team had to call SLS Monday morning to provide cover until Tuesday night.

This will be NASA’s third launch attempt.first try Scrapped on August 29 Due to the discovery of a liquid hydrogen leak from the third RS-25 engine. (The rocket weathered a smaller storm at the time, and lightning struck a nearby tower, but the rocket itself didn’t.) Second shot Also cancelled on September 3 Due to a hydrogen leak – this time it was bigger. (also found a similar question in April and in June When the team tested a “wet rehearsal” of the refueling and countdown routines. )

SLS uses liquid hydrogen subcooled to -423 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a lightweight, efficient, and powerful rocket propellant, but it comes with its own challenges. “Cryogenics are a very difficult propellant to handle,” Brad McCain, vice president of Jacobs Space Operations Group, NASA’s prime contractor for exploration ground systems, said in a Sept. 23 news conference. He noted that liquid hydrogen leaks frequently occurred during 135 space shuttle launches. Using SLS, a “gentle, gentler loading method” that uses less pressure to push propellant through a tube into the core-stage rocket, worked in a September 21 tank test, he said.

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