Hurricane season it’s the latest hurdle for Artemis I, NASA’s first major lunar return since Apollo.
The mission team will meet tonight after the weather forecast update at 5:00 p.m. Canaveral, Florida. NASA hopes that the next 24 hours will bring good news for its launch on Tuesday, September 27.
Tropical depression nine could trigger a pushback, where NASA would send Artemis I back to its rocket garage at KSC called the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Mike Bolger, manager of NASA’s Earth Systems Exploration Program at KSC, said during a teleconference Friday that the moon rocket could stay on the launch pad in gusts up to 74 knots and sustained winds up to 40 knots, but more than that and will have to take refuge.
The team was surprised at how quickly the storm’s track changed since Wednesday, when Artemis engineers completed an abrupt cryogenic fuel test to confirm the stability of recent fuel line reseals. NASA teams wrapped the repair work in plates on two lines that can feed and drain the propellant. The team was satisfied with the midweek demo, making Tuesday’s launch attempt a possibility.
The team isn’t concerned that the rollback will disrupt recent repair work. John Blevins, SLS chief engineer, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, shared Friday that he doesn’t think reversal itself has any effect on reseals, and that he’s “not concerned about leakage with reversal, per se.” .
Right now they are in a planning phase. However, some actions could prepare KSC in case storm winds become too strong for Artemis I to handle on the launch pad. Bolger said he has asked the team that operates the slow-moving rocket carrier called caterpillar to prepare. “They’re in the process of doing that,” he said.
Bolger said they could look to “free up as many resources as possible” to “compress the timeline” for an Artemis I reversal.
The weather issue isn’t too strange, they said, mentioning that they’re moving through procedures similar to what space shuttles would face from time to time.
For now, NASA prepares like a kitchen mise instead.