NASA will not attempt to thread the weather needle with its Artemis 1 moon mission.
Artemis 1 was to be launched from Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday. NASA officials said that they were keeping a close eye on a storm in the Caribbean called Tropical Depression 9.
Tropical Storm Ian was formed late Friday and is expected to grow in strength. According to the National Hurricane Center, it will hit Florida by the middle of next week as a real storm.
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NASA doesn't want the Artemis 1 stack, a Space Launch System megarocket topped with an Orion space capsule, out on the pad in Hurricane-force winds, so it's getting the wheels turning on a possible rollback to the protection ofKSC The launch is off the table due to the prep work.
"During a meeting Saturday morning, teams decided to stand down on preparing for the Tuesday launch date to allow them to configuration systems for rolling back the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spaceship to the Vehicle Assembly Building," NASA officials wrote in an update this morning. The final decision about the roll was deferred to Sunday in order to gather more data.
The mission could still hit the backup launch date if the team keeps Artemis 1 on the pad. It would almost certainly be out of play if the VAB was rolled back.
The goal of NASA's Artemis program is to establish a permanent human presence on and around the moon by 2020. Artemis 1 will send a person to the moon. If the flight goes well, Artemis 2 will launch astronauts around the moon in 2024 and Artemis 3 will put boots down near the moon's south pole in the 20th century.
Since August, the Artemis 1 stack has been at the Launch Pad 39B. The mission was aborted twice by technical problems.
There was a liquid hydrogen propellant leak at the interface between the SLS core stage and the mobile launch tower. Two seals were replaced by the mission team. During a lengthy fueling test on the pad on Wednesday, the repair was shown to be effective.
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