Artemis 1 won’t launch on September 27th due to Tropical Storm Ian

NASA doesn’t seem to be able to take a break. After successfully completing the Space Launch System on Wednesday, the agency had hoped to proceed with Artemis 1 on September 27. Unfortunately, due to Tropical Storm Ian, that date is no longer on the table.

The storm formed over the central Caribbean Sea on Friday evening. Corresponding , forecasters expect Ian to become a hurricane by Sunday before hitting Cuba and then making its way to Florida’s Gulf Coast. As of Saturday, it’s unclear where Ian will end up on the mainland once he arrives. There is also uncertainty as to what storm strength the state can expect, but the current above-average warming of ocean waters on the eastern Gulf Coast does not bode well.

In anticipation of Ian becoming a hurricane, NASA has decided to prepare the SLS for rollback 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 rollback will begin Sunday night or early Monday morning. The plan gives NASA the flexibility to proceed with another launch attempt if the weather situation changes.

If Artemis 1 cannot fly before October 3rd, the next earliest possible launch window will open on October 17th. A rollback to the VAB would mean NASA could also test the rocket’s flight termination system batteries. That would give NASA more flexibility in the October 17-31 launch window.

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