NASA’s unmanned Moon mission Artemis-1 has once again been delayed due to a hurricane, days after returning to the launch pad after undergoing repairs.
NASA in a statement released said it was postponing the November 8 launch until November 16 due to tropical storm ‘Nicole’ which is expected to make landfall on the Florida coast as a ‘Category 1’ hurricane.
“Based on expected weather conditions and options to roll back ahead of the storm, the agency determined Sunday evening the safest option for the launch hardware was to keep the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft secured at the pad,” said the agency.
It added that the engineering team had powered down the Orion spacecraft, SLS core stage, interim cryogenic propulsion stage, and boosters to prepare for the impending storm.
The next window opens at 6:04 AM on November 16 and will be available for two hours. To err on the side of caution, the agency has also kept November 19 as the next date for the launch.
Already delayed by several years, NASA’s Artemis mission is proving a tough challenge for the premier space agency. The agency had its first attempt at the launch on August 29. However, some engineering problems and hazardous leaks meant that the launch was cancelled.
Since then, NASA, on multiple occasions has prepared for a lift-off but to no avail.
As reported by WION extensively, the Artemis programme is NASA’s successor to the Apollo lunar missions from fifty years ago.
The only spaceflights to date to land humans on the moon’s surface involved six Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972, during which twelve men made moonwalks.
The SLS is the largest new vertical launch system NASA has created since the Saturn V rockets used in the 1960s and 1970s.
However, the SLS-Orion spacecraft has so far cost NASA at least $37 billion, which includes design, construction, testing, and ground facilities. Its development has taken more than ten years and has been plagued by years of delays and billion-dollar cost overruns.
(With inputs from agencies)
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