An approaching storm may delay the launch of NASA’s lunar rocket

Marcia Dunn, Related Press

Printed Friday, September 23, 2022 5:01 PM EDT

Final up to date on Friday, September 23, 2022 at 6:13 PM EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – An approaching storm threatens to delay NASA’s subsequent launch take a look at of a brand new moon rocket that has been grounded for weeks as a result of a gas leak.

A tropical despair within the southern Caribbean is shifting towards Florida and will turn into a significant hurricane.

On Friday, managers stated the rocket was now able to explode on its first take a look at flight after extra hydrogen leaks had been overcome throughout a refueling take a look at earlier within the week. That is the primary time a crew capsule has orbited the Moon in 50 years; the spaceship carries mannequins, however no astronauts.

The crews will proceed to watch the forecast and resolve by Saturday on the newest whether or not to not solely postpone the take a look at flight, but additionally to tow the rocket off the pad and again into the hangar. If the rocket has to hunt shelter indoors, it’s unclear when the subsequent launch try will probably be – October and even November.

The desire is to remain on the launch pad and check out for a liftoff on Tuesday, “however there may be nonetheless some uncertainty within the forecast,” stated Tom Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy administrator for exploration techniques.

The rocket’s return to Kennedy House Middle’s mammoth Automobile Meeting Constructing takes three days of preparation, a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) journey of a number of hours.

“I do not suppose we will minimize it shut,” Whitmeyer instructed reporters. “We’re simply taking it one step at a time.”

The 322-foot (98-meter) rocket can stand up to a burst of 85 mph (137 km/h) on the pad, however solely 46 mph (74 km/h) in movement.

This could be the third take a look at launch of the House Launch System, essentially the most highly effective rocket ever constructed by NASA. Gas leaks and different technical issues interrupted the primary two assessments, in late August and early September.

Though hydrogen gas seeped previous the newly put in seals throughout Wednesday’s major take a look at, the launch group decreased the leak to acceptable ranges by slowing the movement and depressurizing the traces. That gave the launch group confidence to proceed with Tuesday’s launch try, officers stated.

The 30-year-old area shuttle program additionally noticed many hydrogen gas leaks and hurricane-related setbacks, executives stated. The moon rocket’s major engines are literally upgraded variations of the shuttle flying autos.

The area power has additionally prolonged the certification of onboard batteries for the flight security system – no less than till the start of October.

NASA has solely two possibilities to launch the rocket — Tuesday and Oct. 2 — earlier than the two-week blackout interval begins. The following launch interval begins on October 17.

Astronauts would climb aboard for a second take a look at flight across the moon in 2024. A 3rd mission, aimed for 2025, would see a pair of astronauts land on the moon.

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