NASA’s Moon Rocket Delayed Due to Hurricane Ian
(USNewsMag.com) – Hurricane Ian barreled down on Florida this week, leaving widespread damage in its wake. It also delayed one highly-anticipated NASA mission — sending the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on a path around the moon. The launch would effectively kick off the space agency’s Artemis program. The rocket was originally slated to take off on August 29, then again on September 3, but technical glitches and fuel leaks further delayed the mission.
Ian Throws a Wrench Into Artemis
For nearly a month, the SLS rocket sat on a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center while it underwent repairs. Several issues cropped up that prevented the initial takeoffs. When it finally seemed ready to go into space, there was another problem: Hurricane Ian. As it was forecasted to become a strong storm with the potential to cause catastrophic damage, NASA felt it was better to delay the launch.
The storm’s approach meant NASA officials had to move the rocket back into the hangar on Monday, September 26, a process that took all night. Now, it will likely not see another attempt until at least November 12, when the next launch period begins.
What Is the Artemis Program?
The Artemis program is NASA’s mission to send man back to the moon, with a goal of completing the trip by 2026. But before the agency can move forward, it needs to make sure the rocket is able to make the trip. This first launch will be unmanned but will have test dummies onboard. The goal is to get the crew capsule into lunar orbit and eventually land on the moon, a feat that hasn’t been achieved since Apollo 17 in 1972. NASA aims to put the first woman and person of color on the moon with Artemis.
Riddled With Problems
In order to get the SLS rocket ready for launch, the crew has to change its batteries, a necessary component for carrying out a controlled explosion should something go seriously wrong during launch. The batteries are only certified for 25 days, something NASA is looking to expand with the US Space Force’s permission.
The batteries aren’t the only problem the crew has faced with this rocket. Two fuel leaks delayed prior launches. Then there were the technical glitches that kept the engine from firing and one that rendered its hardware motionless. Still, the crew refuses to give up. Hurricane Ian was just another one in a line of setbacks engineers are determined to overcome.
When the SLS rocket finally does take off, will you be watching?
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