Beleaguered Moon Rocket Has a New Launch Date

New attempt is set for Wednesday; multiple other attempts in summer, early fall were scuttled
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 12, 2022 11:30 AM CST
NASA: Let's Try Again on This Moon Rocket Launch
NASA's new moon rocket sits on its launch pad on Friday in Cape Canaveral, Fla.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

NASA's Artemis I moon rocket needs only minor repairs after enduring a hurricane at the pad and is on track for its first test flight next week, a top official said Friday. "Right now, there's nothing preventing us" from attempting a launch on Wednesday, said NASA's Jim Free, an associate administrator, per the AP. The wind never exceeded the rocket's design limits as Hurricane Nicole swept through Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, according to Free. But he acknowledged if the launch team had known in advance that a hurricane was going to hit, they likely would have kept the rocket indoors. The rocket was moved out to the pad late last week for its $4.1 billion demo mission.

Gusts reached 100 mph atop the launch tower, but they weren't nearly as strong farther down the rocket. Computer models indicate there should be no strength or fatigue issues from the storm, even deep inside the rocket, Free noted. NASA had been aiming for an early Monday launch, but it was put on hold for two days because of the storm. The 322-foot rocket, known as SLS (for Space Launch System), is the most powerful ever built by NASA.

A crew capsule atop the rocket, with three test dummies on board, will shoot for the moon—the first such flight in 50 years, when Apollo astronauts last visited the moon. NASA wants to test all of the systems before putting astronauts on board in 2024 for a trip around the moon. Two previous launch attempts, in late summer, were thwarted by fuel leaks. Hurricane Ian also forced a return to the hangar at the end of September.

(Read more NASA stories.)

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