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Nasa's Artemis-1 launch delayed again as tropical storm Nicole approaches

India Today logo India Today 09-11-2022 India Today Web Desk
Nasa's Artemis-1 launch delayed again as tropical storm Nicole approaches © Provided by India Today Nasa's Artemis-1 launch delayed again as tropical storm Nicole approaches

Days ahead of the countdown clock was set to begin ticking, Nasa has delayed the launch of its much-awaited Artemis-1 mission to the Moon. The launch has been pushed to November 16 from the initially scheduled November 14 due to Tropical Storm Nicole approaching.

The American space agency has decided that the Space Launch System, the world's most powerful rocket, with the Orion spacecraft will bear the storm on the pad and a team has been designated to monitor the situation. The SLS rocket is designed to withstand 74.4-knot winds at the 60-foot level with a structural margin.

The Kennedy Space Center has been placed in HURCON (Hurricane Condition) III status and teams are securing facilities, property, and equipment at the center, as well as briefing and deploying the "ride-out" team. Nasa said that as per hurricane preparedness protocol, a "ride-out" team includes a set of personnel who will remain in a safe location at Kennedy throughout the storm to monitor center-wide conditions, including the flight hardware for the Artemis I mission.

"Current forecasts predict the greatest risks at the pad are high winds that are not expected to exceed the SLS design. The rocket is designed to withstand heavy rains at the launch pad and the spacecraft hatches have been secured to prevent water intrusion," Nasa said in a blog update.

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The Orion spacecraft has been powered down along with the SLS core stage, interim cryogenic propulsion stage, and boosters. "Engineers have also installed a hard cover over the launch abort system window, retracted and secured the crew access arm on the mobile launcher, and configured the settings for the environmental control system on the spacecraft and rocket elements," the space agency added.

WHEN WILL ARTEMIS-1 LAUNCH?

The moon rocket will launch on November 16 in a two-hour window that opens up at 11:34 am on Wednesday. The mission will go about 60,000 kilometers away from the Moon and return to Earth with a splashdown likely on December 11. If the launch is further delayed, there is a backup date on November 19.

The rocket was moved back to the launch pad last week, and Nasa was aiming for a launch attempt early Monday. The $4.1 billion mission will send an empty crew capsule around the moon and back in a flight test before astronauts climb aboard in a couple of years. It is Nasa's biggest step yet to get astronauts back on the moon by 2025.

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