Nov. 9 (UPI) — NASA has decided to re-schedule its Artemis 1 mission launch to Nov. 16, “pending safe conditions for employees to return to work.”
The space agency is monitoring Tropical Storm Nicole Wednesday morning as it approaches the eastern coast of Florida.
“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,” NASA said in a blog.
Nicole has also delayed a SpaceX Galaxy satellite launch, pushing it back at least four days for a launch no earlier than Nov. 12.
The Artemis I launch delay is the latest in a series of launch dates that have been scrubbed for that mission. It is to be the Artemis spacecraft’s maiden voyage to the moon.
According to a NASA blog, the Kennedy Space Center is in a HURCON, or Hurricane Condition III status. That includes securing the facilities, property and equipment and the deploying of a “ride-out” team.
“As part of NASA’s hurricane preparedness protocol, a “ride-out” team includes a set of personnel who will remain in a safe location at Kennedy throughout the storm to monitor center-wide conditions, including the flight hardware for the Artemis I mission,” the NASA blog said, “Kennedy will release non-essential personnel at the HURCON II status as the agency continues to prioritize its employees in the Kennedy area.”
NASA said the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft will remain secured at the launch pad. That rocket is designed to withstand heavy rains and 85 mph winds “at the 60-foot level with structural margin,” according to NASA.
The spacecraft has been powered down, as have the SLS core stage, interim cryogenic propulsion stage and boosters. NASA teams are poised to get back to work as soon as weather conditions allow.
So the tentative plan now is to launch Artemis 1 within a two-hour window that opens at 1:04 a.m. EST Nov. 16.