NASA has waved off its third attempt at launching the Artemis I uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft. Scheduled for Sept. 27, the launch was postponed due to weather conditions related to the approach of Hurricane Ian, which is currently forecast to make landfall in Florida on Thursday. In preparation for the storm, NASA is planning to roll the rocket and spacecraft back from the launchpad to the Vehicle Assembly Building.
“Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area,” NASA said. “The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system.”
The rollback is expected to begin Monday night. Plans for the next launch attempt for the Artemis I mission have not yet been announced. The current launch window for Artemis I closes on Oct. 4, and the next window runs from Oct. 17 through Oct. 31 with 11 possible launch opportunities. Two previous attempts to launch the mission have been scrubbed, the first after an engine failed to reach the proper temperature range for liftoff and the second due to a hydrogen leak. Artemis I is the first of a three-mission series designed to culminate with landing a crew on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.