NASA’s Artemis I mission is delayed again as Tropical Storm Nicole moves toward the launch site
the mission Artemis Iwhich is expected to send an unmanned spacecraft on a test mission around the moon, has been postponed again as NASA’s Space Launch System grapples with Tropical Storm Nicole, which is now expected to become a hurricane before it reaches Florida’s east coast.
The space agency was targeting November 14 for its third launch attempt, but is now looking at November 16, “pending safe conditions for personnel to return to work, as well as inspections after the storm has passed.” NASA said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. November 16 will present a two-hour launch window that opens at 1:04 a.m. ET.
CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller noted that the rocket, often referred to as the SLS, is on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, which is north of where the storm’s epicenter is expected to make landfall. This means that the region can expect some of the strongest winds that the system will carry.
If it’s a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 120 km/h, as expected, its gusts could range from 130 to 145 km/h, according to Miller. This could mean that the missile will be hit with winds higher than the predetermined limits of what the missile can withstand. Authorities said the SLS is designed to withstand wind gusts of up to 137 km/h.
“In addition, the National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida, forecast maximum winds early Thursday morning at 86 mph,” Miller added. “So yes, it’s entirely possible for wind gusts to exceed this limit.”
The latest report from the National Hurricane Center also gives a 15% chance that Cocoa Beach, about 20 miles south of the launch site, will support sustained storm winds.
However, NASA officials said in a statement that “the forecast predicts that the biggest risks to the platform are high winds that are not expected to override the design of the SLS.”
The statement added, “The rocket is designed to withstand heavy rain on the launch pad, and the spacecraft’s hatches have been secured to prevent water leakage.”
The space agency decided to launch the SLS rocket to the launch pad last week as the storm was still an unnamed system brewing off the east coast. At the time, officials expected this storm to bring sustained sustained winds of around 25 knots (46 km/h) with gusts of up to 40 knots (74 km/h), which was considered to be within predetermined limits of what the missile could withstand, According to the comments. Written by Mark Berger, launch weather officer with the US Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, at a NASA news conference Nov.
“The National Hurricane Center only has a 30% chance that the storm will turn into a specific storm,” Burger said last Thursday. “However, having said that, the models are very consistent in developing some kind of low pressure.”
But the storm turned into an eponymous system on Monday, three days after the rocket was launched from the launch pad.
The strength of the storm is extraordinary, with Nicole expected to be the first hurricane to hit the United States in November in nearly 40 years.
The Kennedy Space Center announced on its Twitter account Tuesday that it “is in the case of HURICON III and continues to prepare for the next storm by taking prudent precautions in all of our programs, activities, and workforce before the storm.”
Preparations for HURICON III include “securing facilities, property and equipment” as well as the deployment of a rescue team, which is personnel who will be on site to assess any damage.
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