NASA’s Artemis 1 lunar rocket is ready for the big moment next week, but Mother Nature may keep it grounded for a while longer.
The space agency continues to plan for a launch on Tuesday (September 27). Artemis 1 from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, even as a major storm is brewing in the Caribbean. This storm could become a hurricane, and the Space Coast could come into view.
Artemis 1, NASA’s first flight Artemis program study of the month, will use a Space launch system (SLS) An unmanned launch vehicle Orion capsule on a trip to lunar orbit and back. NASA previously attempted to launch the mission on August 29 and September 3, but both times were halted by technical glitches, the second of which was liquid hydrogen leak at the interface between the SLS and its mobile launch tower.
That leak has been fixed, NASA officials said, citing a successful fuel loading test mission team unveiled the Artemis 1 stack on Wednesday (Sept. 21).
“All in all, it was a great day,” said Brad McCain, vice president and general manager of Jacobs Space Operations Group, prime contractor for NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program at KSC, during a call with reporters today (Sept. 23). ).
“We are very optimistic about our next launch attempt on Tuesday and the team is ready to continue,” McCain added.
The Artemis 1 team also obtained the required waiver from US Space Forcewhich oversees the Eastern Rocket Launch Site, will extend the certification period for the Mission Completion System (FTS), NASA officials said today.
The FTS is designed to destroy the SLS if it deviates from its course during launch. The system was certified for 25 days, a period that expired earlier this month. But the space force approved the FTS through a launch attempt on Tuesday and a backup option on Oct. 2, NASA officials said.
The FTS cancellation — the second Artemis 1 received after an earlier extension from 20 to 25 days — is a pretty big deal. If the space force refused to issue it, Artemis 1 would have to roll from launch pad 39B back to the KSC Assembly Building (VAB), the only place where the FTS could be recertified.
However, Artemis 1 may still have to roll back to the VAB – to escape the oncoming storm. A vortex called Tropical Depression 9 is gathering strength in the Caribbean Sea and may eventually head toward KSC.
“Our Plan A is to stay the course and launch on September 27,” Mike Bolger, Exploration Ground Systems program manager at KSC, said during today’s briefing. “If we were to abandon Plan B, it would take us several days to transition from our current refueling test or launch configuration to perform a rollback and return to VAB protection.”
The mission team is closely monitoring the weather and will revise its plans tonight after the latest weather patterns come in, Bolger said. A decision on whether to stay on site or roll back will likely be made “no later than tomorrow morning or very early afternoon,” he added.
Artemis 1 can stay on the launch pad as long as winds do not exceed 74 knots (85 miles per hour or 137 kilometers per hour), Bolger said. And a rollback to VAB can safely occur in sustained winds of up to 40 knots (46 miles per hour, or 74 kilometers per hour), although there is likely room for variation in that number, he added.
When Artemis 1 returns to the VAB in the next few days, the team will take the opportunity to perform some work on the vehicle, such as replacing the FTS battery, mission team members said during a call today. The rollback process is lengthy, so in that case the mission would definitely miss the September 27 launch window, and it’s unclear if the October 2 fallback date would also be ruled out.
There are other complications associated with the upcoming takeoff. The weather should be good on launch day, whatever that turns out to be. And SpaceX Crew-5 cosmonaut flight for NASA, it is scheduled to launch from the nearby KSC 39A launch pad on October 3. We just have to wait and see how it goes.
Mike Wall is the author of “There (opens in a new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) or further Facebook (opens in a new tab).
https://www.space.com/artemis-1-moon-rocket-september-27-launch-weather/ NASA still plans to launch Artemis 1 to the moon on September 27, despite the storm