After two failed attempts due to technical problems, the rehearsal of the Artemis 1 mission scheduled for Tuesday is now threatened by a storm that forms in the Caribbean.
The "tropical depression number nine" It does not yet have a name, but it is currently located below the Dominican Republic. And it should become a hurricane in the next few days, before rising through the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, where the Kennedy Space Center is located, from where the rocket should take off.
"Our plan A is to stay the course and proceed to a takeoff on September 27"Mike Bolger, a senior manager at the Kennedy Center, said Friday.
"But if we have to go to plan B, we need a few days to change our current configuration (…) and return the rocket to the protection of its assembly building."he added.
NASA closely monitors every weather report.
"We will probably make a decision no later than tomorrow morning (Saturday) or early afternoon"Bolger said.
The orange and white SLS rocket can withstand wind gusts of up to 137 km/h on its launch pad.
If you must bundle up you will miss out on the current shooting window, which runs through October 4th. The next period runs from October 17 to 31, with a possibility of daily takeoff (except from October 24 to 26 and 28).
This setback would be a blow to NASA, which has just overcome two other problems related to fueling and the certification of the rocket’s emergency self-destruct system batteries.
The shooting window should open on Tuesday at 11:37 local time for 70 minutes. If it takes off that day, the mission will last 39 days, until landing in the Pacific Ocean on November 5.
It will not carry astronauts, since Artemis 1 must serve to verify that the Orion capsule, on top of the rocket, is safe to transport luggage to the Moon in the future.