CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has decided not to try to launch their new moon rocket the following week because a tropical storm is coming and is expected to turn into a major hurricane.
The lunar-orbiting test flight involving mannequins but no humans has been delayed for the third time in the last month. This mission is a follow-up to the Apollo moon-landing program that NASA ran half a century ago. The previous scrubs happened because of fuel leaks and other technical problems.
It is anticipated that Tropical Storm Ian will strengthen into a hurricane by Monday and then make landfall on the Gulf coast of Florida on Thursday. Ian is currently churning in the Caribbean. On the other hand, the cone indicating the likely course of the storm’s core encompasses the whole of the state, including the Kennedy Space Center operated by NASA.
As a result of the unpredictability of the weather prediction, NASA made the decision on Saturday to cancel the launch attempt that was scheduled for Tuesday and instead begin preparing the 322-foot (98-meter) rocket for a probable landing in its hangar. On Sunday, the managers will discuss whether or not to remove it from the launch pad.
In the event that the rocket stays on the launch pad, NASA may attempt a launch on October 2, which would be their final chance before a blackout period lasting two weeks. On the other hand, a rollback either late on Sunday or early on Monday would mean that the test flight would be postponed for a significant amount of time, maybe until November.
The rocket that is part of the Space Launch System is the most powerful one that NASA has ever constructed. Assuming that the first test flight is successful, humans will board the spacecraft in 2024 for the second trip, which would culminate in a landing on the moon for two people in 2025.