NASA officials said that NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket survived the wrath of Tropical Storm Nicole in good condition and is still on track for launch next Wednesday (November 16) as planned.
Nicole hit the Florida space coast on Thursday (November 10) as a Category 1 hurricane, bringing strong winds and rain before weakening to become a tropical storm. The Artemis 1 pile – space launch system (SLS) megarocket topped with an Orion capsule – Take a storm punchand carried it outdoors at Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
SLS and Orion spacecraft The jaw is clearly strong, because inspections after the storm revealed only minor damage that should not have prevented the takeoff on time, NASA officials said.
“Right now, there’s nothing stopping us from getting to Day 16,” Jim Frey, associate director of the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, said during a news conference Friday afternoon (November 11). Liftoff is currently targeted for November 16 at 1:04 AM ET (0604 GMT).
Free said Nicole unscrewed some dam on the Orion, sent some water into the boom allowing access to the capsule from the Artemis 1 launch tower, and tore rain caps on one of the SLS’ engines.
He added that the expedition team is working its way through these and many other small issues and expects to have them cleared up in time for take-off on Wednesday.
This does not mean that Artemis 1 is guaranteed that day; Other boxes should be checked as well.
For example, the mission team planned to run both the SLS and Orion on Friday, Free said, and move on to “program-specific engineering tests” on the mission hardware afterward. Any obstacles in these procedures are likely to cause delays.
Delay is not unusual for Artemis 1. The mission was Supposed to be released in late Augustbut several technical errors pushed the quit back a month.
Then, in late September, the team rolled Artemis 1 off Pad 39B and back to the KSC Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) To protect from Hurricane Ianthat hit the space coast hard.
Mission team members kept SLS and Orion in the VAB for a while, and took some time to do some upgrade and maintenance work. that they Artemis 1 rolled back to the plate on November 4It wasn’t long before Nicole was brought to a boil in the Atlantic.
Early forecasts indicated that the storm would not be a major problem for SLS and Orion. But Nicole suddenly strengthened quickly, then put the Space Coast in plain sight.
On Tuesday (November 8), NASA pushed the planned Artemis 1 takeoff by two days, From November 14 to November 16. But by then, it was too late to return Artemis 1 to VAB.
“We’re not going to have the proper wind we want when we’re rolling,” Frey said.
Team members did not believe this decision put Artemis 1 in serious danger; Models and predictions suggested that the SLS would be able to handle the pressure Nicholl was forced on it. That turned into the case, Frey said.
The SLS is certified to withstand maximum winds of 85 mph (137 km/h) at 60 feet (18 m) “by a structural margin,” NASA officials said (Opens in a new tab). Frey said the maximum wind speed at that altitude that Nicole threw at the rocket on Thursday was 82 mph (132 kph).
He added that winds were stronger at higher altitudes on Thursday, but did not go beyond the design limits of the SLS.
Artemis 1 is NASA’s first mission Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent human presence on and around the Moon by the end of the decade. The flight will send an unmanned Orion craft into lunar orbit and back, on a seismic cruise designed to demonstrate that the capsule and SLS are ready for manned missions.
The launch window opens on November 16 at 1:04 a.m. EDT (0604 GMT) and lasts for two hours. Free said that if Artemis 1 can’t launch on that day, backup opportunities will be available on November 19 and November 25.
Mike Wall is the author of “Abroad (Opens in a new tab)Book (Great Grand Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrials. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed (Opens in a new tab) or on Facebook (Opens in a new tab).