WASHINGTON: Nasa has called off the scheduled Tuesday launch of its historic uncrewed mission to the Moon due to a tropical storm that is forecast to strengthen as it approaches Florida.
After two previously canceled launch attempts, Nasa is weighing returning the Artemis 1 mission rocket to its assembly site under the threat of extreme weather.
“Nasa is forgoing a launch opportunity... and preparing for rollback (from the launchpad), while continuing to watch the weather forecast associated with Tropical Storm Ian,” it said on Saturday.
The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said Ian is due to “rapidly intensify” over the weekend as it moves toward Florida, home to the Kennedy Space Centre, from which the rocket is set to launch.
Currently south of Jamaica, the storm is expected to approach Florida’s west coast “at or near major hurricane strength” early next week, threatening storm surge, flooding and hurricane-force winds across much of the state, the NHC said.
On the launchpad, the giant orange and white Space Launch System (SLS) rocket can withstand wind gusts of up to 137 kilometres (85 miles) per hour. But if it has to be sheltered, the current launch window, which runs until October 4, will be missed.
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2022