NASA’s historic unmanned mission to the Moon is facing new difficulties.
A new liftoff of the Artemis 1 mission, scheduled for Tuesday, is now threatened by a stormy gathering in the Caribbean, after technical problems derailed two launch attempts several weeks ago.
The storm, which has not yet been named, currently lies south of the Dominican Republic.
But it is expected to develop into a hurricane in the coming days and move north to Florida, home of the Kennedy Space Center from where the rocket is scheduled to launch.
“We plan to stay on course A and close the launch on Sept. 27,” NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Manager Mike Bolger told reporters Friday. “But we realized we needed to really focus and think about Plan B.”
This massive Space Launch System will transport the rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, known as the VAB.
“If we were to move to Plan B we need a few days to execute a rollback from our current tanking test or launch configuration and get back to the safety of the VAB,” Bolger said. early Saturday afternoon.
The orange and white colored SLS rocket on the launch pad can withstand gusts of 137 kilometers per hour. But if it has to be shelved, the current launch window, which runs until October 4, will be missed.
The next launch window will run from October 17 to 31, with a probability of take-off per day, except for October 24-26 and 28.
After years of delays and cost escalation, a successful Artemis 1 mission will come as a major relief to the US space agency. But another setback would be a blow to NASA, after two previous launch attempts were canceled after the rocket experienced technical glitches, including a fuel leak.
Launch dates depend on NASA receiving a special exemption to avoid having to re-test the batteries on an emergency flight system that is used to destroy a rocket if it is populated beyond its specified limit. goes to the area.
The launch window on Tuesday will open at 11:37 am local time and will last 70 minutes.
If the rocket takes off that day, the mission will last 39 days before landing in the Pacific on November 5.
The Artemis 1 space mission hopes to test the SLS as well as the unmanned Orion capsule, in preparation for a future trip to the Moon with humans.
Sensor-equipped effigies stand for astronauts on the mission and will record acceleration, vibration and radiation levels.
The next mission, Artemis 2, will take astronauts into orbit around the Moon without landing on its surface.
The crew of Artemis 3 is to land on the Moon in 2025 at the earliest.
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