NASA’s massive next-generation rocket is facing down yet another tropical weather system, delaying its next launch attempt until November 16th at the earliest.
This rocket was scheduled to finally launch on November 14th, taking off in the dark early morning hours. But with Tropical Storm Nicole approaching the Florida coast, NASA decided to push back the launch attempt. “Adjusting the target launch date will allow the workforce to tend to the needs of their families and homes, and provide sufficient logistical time to get back into launch status following the storm,” a NASA blog post said.
The next launch attempt will take place two days later than originally planned, during a two-hour window that opens at 1:04AM ET. If the rocket doesn’t launch then, there’s another window on November 19th. If successful, it will be the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System, a huge rocket designed for deep-space travel. This mission is called Artemis I and is an uncrewed mission that will send an Orion spacecraft around the Moon and back, testing out systems that will be needed on future spaceflights, some of which will carry astronauts to the Moon’s surface.
This is the second time that a storm has wrecked launch plans for Artemis I. In September, the approach of Hurricane Ian caused NASA to call off a launch attempt and roll the rocket back into the Vehicle Assembly Building for safekeeping, a process that takes many hours. This time, NASA has elected to leave it on the pad. At the launchpad, the rocket can withstand heavy rain and wind speeds of up to 85 miles per hour.
Nicole is currently a tropical storm and was producing wind speeds of 70 miles per hour at 1PM ET today. It is expected to become a hurricane today and will make landfall in Florida tonight.