NASA can’t seem to catch a break. After successfully completing the Space Launch System on Wednesday, the agency hoped to move forward with Artemis 1 on September 27. Unfortunately, that date is no longer on the table. due to tropical storm Ian.
The storm formed Friday night over the central Caribbean. According to Forecasters expect Ian to become a hurricane on Sunday before hitting Cuba and then heading for Florida’s Gulf Coast. As of Saturday, it is unclear where Ian will make landfall once he reaches the mainland. There is also uncertainty about how strong a storm status you should expect, but the current above-average warmth of ocean waters on the eastern Gulf Coast is not a good sign.
In anticipation of Ian becoming a hurricane, NASA has decided to prepare the SLS for a fallback to the safety of the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building. The agency will make a final decision on Sunday. If the forecast worsens, the reversal will start on Sunday night or early Monday morning. The plan gives NASA the flexibility to move forward with another launch attempt if there is a change in the weather situation.
If Artemis 1 is unable to fly before October 3, the next earliest launch window opens on October 17. A rollback to VAB would mean NASA could also test the rocket’s flight termination system batteries. That would give NASA more flexibility around the October 17-31 launch window.
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