NASA’s Artemis I launch has been formally postponed until November

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket launch has been put back to mid-November after the agency cancelled its September 27th launch plans in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian (via Space.com). The space agency stated on Friday that the Artemis I launch will take place between November 12th and November 27th.

While there was a potential that NASA’s next launch attempt may happen in October, that was eventually cancelled when NASA opted to bring the rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to protect it from the storm. After an hour-long journey to the VAB, NASA successfully secured the rocket on Tuesday.

Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, but by the time it reached the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, it had reduced to a tropical storm. According to NASA, “there was no damage to Artemis flying gear,” and its facilities only saw “minimal water penetration.”

NASA’s Artemis I launch will carry an unmanned Orion spacecraft around the Moon, laying the groundwork for future missions that would transport the first woman and person of colour to the lunar surface. The agency’s first launch attempt was cancelled due to engine problems, and its second was tarnished by a “significant” leak that occurred when engineers loaded the rocket with cooled liquid hydrogen fuel.

Subsequent testing of the rocket’s fuelling system revealed that the leak remained but at a more “manageable” level. Now that the rocket has returned to the VAB, NASA says it will “prepare for further inspections” and retest the Flight Termination System, which the Space Force employs to kill the rocket if it deviates from its intended path.v