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Officials at NASA announced Monday that the space agency is returning the massive Artemis Moon rocket back to its hangar, known as the Vehicle Assembly Building, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to protect it from Hurricane Ian.
The move slows down third boot for the Artemis I mission, which is expected to send an unexploded capsule around the moon, for at least a few weeks. The failure will likely push NASA’s next attempt into November, though late October is likely still an option for the highly anticipated launch.
“Regulators met Monday morning and made decisions based on the latest weather predictions regarding Hurricane Ian, after additional data collected overnight failed to reveal expected conditions. improvements to the Kennedy Space Center site,” NASA noted. Blog Artemis.
The rocket, known as the Space Launch System or SLS, is scheduled to make a slow 4.5-mile (7.2 km) trip back to the maintenance building starting at 11 p.m. ET. in Monday.
“The decision allows staff time to address family needs and protect the integrated missile and spacecraft system. The timing of the first motion is also based on the best-predicted conditions for return to meet the weather criteria for the move,” NASA said.
The overall goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to return humans to the moon for the first time in half a century. And the Artemis I mission – expected to be the first of many – will lay the groundwork, testing rockets and spacecraft and all of its subsystems to ensure it. safe enough for astronauts to fly.
But completing this first mission has proven to be an endearing endeavor. The agency has decision over the weekend to postpone a third launch attempt, previously scheduled for Tuesday, due to weather concerns. The question raised Monday morning was whether the task force needed to return the rockets to shelter as Hurricane Ian headed toward Florida.
With that decision, NASA is now focused on bringing the roughly $4 billion worth of SLS rockets back to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building, a giant structure large enough to hold the vehicle when it’s lying flat. The rocket will make the trip by slow crawling, riding atop a moving platform called the Crawler-Transporter 2.
Technical problems thwarted the first two attempts to bring the SLS rocket to the ground for the Artemis I mission. One key challenge was a series of leaks that appeared when teams tried to fill it with hydrogen fuel. supercooled liquid into the rocket. The working group has been working to fix those issues and ran tests last week. Although the tests didn’t go exactly as planned, NASA considers it a success and says it “fulfilled all of our key goals.”