NASA delays moon rocket launch due to potential hurricane


NASA is skipping the launch attempt for its new moon rocket next week due to a tropical storm that is expected to become a major hurricane.

It’s the third delay in the past month for the lunar orbit test flight with dummies but no astronauts, a follow-up to NASA’s Apollo moon landing program half a century ago. Hydrogen fuel leaks and other technical issues caused the previous friction.

Currently in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Ian is expected to become a hurricane by Monday and hit the Gulf Coast of Florida by Thursday. The entire state, however, is within the cone showing the probable path of the storm’s center – including NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Given uncertainties over the forecast, NASA decided on Saturday to forgo the launch attempt scheduled for Tuesday and instead prepare the 322-foot (98-meter) rocket for an eventual return to its hangar. Managers will decide on Sunday whether to pull him off the launch pad.

If the rocket remains on the pad, NASA could attempt a launch attempt on Oct. 2, the last opportunity before a two-week blackout period. But a rollback late Sunday or early Monday would likely mean a long delay for the test flight, possibly pushing it back until November.

The Space Launch System rocket is the most powerful ever built by NASA. Assuming its first test flight goes well, the astronauts would board for the next mission in 2024, leading to a two-man moon landing in 2025.

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