As Florida braces for Hurricane Ian, NASA confirmed Monday night that the Artemis 1 rocket, which is poised to go on a postponed trip to the Moon, will be pushed back into its storage hangar.
The uncrewed Moon mission, which was supposed to launch last month but has already been delayed three times, may suffer more obstacles as a result of the decision to shield the rocket from the strong winds and heavy rain anticipated for the Kennedy Space Center.
Jim Free, a NASA representative, tweeted, “We will wheel our Artemis I vehicle back to the Vehicle Assembly Building tonight after studying the weather for Ian.” “Keeping our personnel and equipment secure was the proper and required course of action.”
According to a blog post by the space agency, the choice was made “based on the most recent meteorological forecasts related to Hurricane Ian, when new data collected overnight did not suggest improved predicted circumstances.”
Around 11:00 p.m. (0300 GMT) on Monday, NASA said the operation to move the 98-meter (320-foot) rocket, which is parked on its launch pad, will start.
In order to prevent vibrations from harming the rocket, it will be transported on a rolling platform that moves gently.
Storm Ian, which was located as a Category 1 hurricane on Monday southwest of Cuba, is anticipated to get stronger as it travels through the Gulf of Mexico into Florida.
In order to plan a takeoff attempt just after the storm passed, NASA waited until the last minute to determine whether to shelter Artemis I.
The current launch window, which is open until October 4, will no longer allow for blast-off, and NASA has not said when another launch attempt would be made.
With certain exclusions, the following window is from October 17 to October 31 and again from November 12 to November 27.
The hurricane and a fuel leak forced the cancellation of earlier launch attempts for Artemis 1, and the storage decision is only the most recent setback.
Artemis 1 will test if the Orion capsule, which is mounted on top of the rocket, is secure enough to return people to the Moon’s surface 50 years after the Apollo program’s last voyage.