NASA foregoes Artemis I launch attempt in September as Ian threatens Florida

Tanking test earlier this week ‘accomplished primary objectives,’ NASA says

Mission Managers will soon decide if Artemis I rocket should roll back to VAB ahead of the threat of Tropical Storm Ian.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – NASA on Friday said its tanking test for its moon rocket earlier this week was “really successful,” but while agency officials thought at the time that the Space Launch System was ready for a new launch attempt Sept. 27, an update the following day spelled things out differently.

According to a post on NASA’s blog, it was decided during a meeting Saturday morning that teams would stand down from Tuesday’s planned Artemis I launch attempt to allow for rollback preparations ahead of a final decision by Sunday whether to put the SLS back in the Vehicle Assembly Building.

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The time will be used to configure systems for rollback, and should mission managers decide to make that happen following more data gathering and analysis, it would start either late Sunday or early Monday.

NASA on Friday said its tanking test for the Artemis I mission rocket earlier this week was “really successful,” and they think the Space Launch System rocket is ready for a new launch attempt.

During a teleconference Friday, NASA originally said it would move forward with the Sept. 27 targeted launch date for Artemis I, despite concerns about the weather that day.

Forecasts show Tropical Storm Ian near the state of Florida on Tuesday, as a projected major hurricane.

The space agency may have more trouble as forecasts show Tropical Depression 9 near the state of Florida on Tuesday, the day of the near Artemis I launch attempt, as a projected major hurricane.

NASA officials said Friday they were monitoring the storm and would decide whether to roll the rocket back by Saturday afternoon. The rocket can withstand wind gusts of 74 knots, or 85 mph, at the launch pad.

Agency officials said Wednesday all objectives were met in the latest cryogenic demonstration test of the Space Launch System. Those objectives — assessing engineers’ repair of a hydrogen leak, loading propellant using new procedures, performing a “kick-start bleed” to simulate pre-launch engine thermal conditioning and completing a pre-pressurization test — have produced data that teams said will be weighed with weather and other factors in order to confirm a launch opportunity.

A crucial test was completed Wednesday to determine whether another launch attempt of the Artemis I mission can happen. All objectives were met and now the space agency must review the data before deciding whether to move forward with another launch attempt on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Space Launch Delta 45 — the U.S. Space Force unit in charge of the Eastern Range, and thus of approving all rocket launches on the Space Coast — also granted the waiver needed to press ahead with the launch without first having to roll back to the VAB inspections and service the rocket’s self-destruct batteries.

That was the other barrier NASA had to overcome in order to try for a launch attempt on Tuesday.

The next potential launch attempt is to be on Oct. 2.

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About the Authors:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.