Tropical Storm Ian Forces NASA to Postpone Megarocket Launch

Tropical Storm Ian Forces NASA to Postpone Megarocket Launch
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SLS on the Kennedy Space Center launch pad.

SLS on the Kennedy Space Center launch pad.
picture: NASA

Ian, the ninth named tropical storm of the current Atlantic hurricane season, disrupted NASA’s plan to launch the Artemis 1 mission on Tuesday, September 27.

as late as friday in the afternoon, NASA officials indiscriminate rejection Caribbean storm system, but the space agency has since He cleverly concluded that the system, now called Tropical Ian, was something to be concerned about.

Inside blog post Released this morning, NASA said it was “giving up on a launch opportunity” and “preparing for a comeback” while continuing to monitor tropical storm weather forecasts. The 321-foot-tall (98-meter) megarocket currently rests on Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida as NASA prepares for the Artemis 1 mission, where an uncrewed Orion capsule will take a walk to the Moon and back. .

But while NASA canceled Tuesday’s inaugural launch, the agency has yet to make a decision on whether it wants to return the rocket to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) – a giant sling that will provide shelter when the storm hits the area. It confuses me that NASA is even considering leaving the SLS and Orion on the pad. The entire system—including Orion—cost $50 billion to develop and each launch of the rocket will cost about 4 billion dollars. And with NASA’s continued insistence On the issue of security, it’s time to implement what the space agency preaches.

As NASA officials explained at a press conference yesterday, the SLS can withstand wind gusts of 85 miles per hour (137 kilometers per hour), while rebound can withstand sustained winds reaching 46 mph (74 kph). That’s a relief, but there’s a chance the rocket could be damaged by objects being swept away by the wind. I think it’s better for NASA not to take that chance.

With Tuesday’s launch postponed, teams are now configuring systems in preparation for an eventual rollback; engineers deferred their decision “to allow for additional data gathering and analysis” and will make a decision on Sunday. Should a roll back happen, it would start either late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Image for article titled Tropical Storm Ian Forces NASA to Postpone Upcoming Launch of Megarocket

Graphic: NOAA

That Tropical Storm Ian could reach Kennedy Space Center is a distinct possibility. Projections from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center show Potential storm winds reaching the area Tuesday evening. NASA says it will take about two days to send SLS to the VAB, which doesn’t leave much time for the space agency. In addition to protecting the rocket, NASA will need to take care to ensure that its employees are likewise safe and able to seek shelter when and if the storm hits.

“The agency takes a step-by-step approach to the decision-making process, allowing the agency to protect its employees by making a safe transition in time to meet their families’ needs, while also retaining the option to move forward with another agency. NASA has an opportunity to launch in the current window if weather forecasts improve,” they wrote.

The launch won’t be on Tuesday, but Eastern Range, a Space Force branch that oversees launches from Florida’s east coast, issued a disclaimer yesterday stating that NASA has the option to launch on Sunday, Oct. NASA’s third to send SLS and Orion into space, scrubbing on August 29 and September 3, resulting in technical problems.

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