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Hurricane threat delays NASA rocket launch

NASA is pushing a large crescent rocket onto the launch pad and delaying the target’s launch time by two days to weather a hurricane expected to form near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Kennedy Space Center is near the center of a 386.2-kilometer stretch on Florida’s Atlantic coast, and forecasters say Tropical Storm Nicol will most likely hit Wednesday night or early Thursday morning as a Category 1 hurricane. increase.

As of Tuesday night, Nicole was packing a maximum sustained wind of 104.6 km/h and was gaining strength as it headed north of the Bahamas en route to Florida, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported.

Maximum wind speeds for Category 1 hurricanes range from 119 km/h to 153 km/h.

NASA’s next-generation rocket, which stands 32 stories high, was deployed to the launch pad last week in its third attempt to take off from the ground for the first unmanned flight to the moon.

The flight was the first mission in NASA’s ambitious new Artemis lunar exploration program and was scheduled to take off on Monday.

Nicole’s approach caused NASA to push back its launch window by at least two days to November 16th. This gave workers extra time to take care of their families and homes before the storm and then prepare the rocket for flight.

NASA is keeping the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule moored on the launch pad through the storm, rather than trying to get the spacecraft back into the hangar, a roughly 12-hour operation with added risks. said.

If the giant tractor crawlers used to move the rocket in and out of the hangar failed, the spacecraft could be left more vulnerable, says Mark, a launch meteorologist at the U.S. Space Force station at Cape. Burger said.

“You could be sitting on a crawler for hours exposed to the wind, and that’s the absolute worst case scenario,” Berger told Reuters.

According to NASA, the rocket was designed to withstand heavy rain and strong winds of 136.8 km/h, which is the upper limit projected for the Cape, NASA said.

In preparation for the storm, the team took steps to power down the spacecraft’s systems and secure the rocket and other equipment on site.

A “ride-out” team was assigned to stay at the complex and monitor conditions during the storm.

Two Artemis I launch attempts in August and September were canceled due to technical problems, and the rocket was returned to the hangar due to Hurricane Ian.

If Artemis I landed on the ground during the two-hour launch window, which opens at 1:00 am (0600 GMT) on November 16th, the Orion capsule would return to Earth for touchdown on December 11th. said NASA.

The backup start date is set to November 19th.

https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/world/hurricane-threat-delays-nasa-rocket-launch-c-8803738 Hurricane threat delays NASA rocket launch

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