Possible Hurricane Ian Derails NASA’s Artemis Moon Rocket Launch

by Suzanne Halliburton

NASA postponed its Artemis Moon Rocket Launch, again, but this time it’s due to the weather and not a mechanical issue.

The Artemis Moon Rocket Launch was set to blast off on Tuesday. But Tropical Storm Ian, which blew up over the Caribbean Sea this past week, scuttled those plans. It’s the third postponement.

By late morning Saturday, NASA realized that Artemis would be a no-go, at least for the upcoming week.

Ian went from a depression to a named storm on Friday. As of Saturday morning, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour. It’s still far below hurricane strength, which would be 75 mph. But that may just be a formality. Given that the system is moving over very warm waters as it heads toward Cuba, it’s only a matter of when it becomes Hurricane Ian. The only question is how nasty Ian can get before he makes landfall on the mainland.

The projected path sends the storm towards Florida’s middle Gulf Coast, with landfall now as late as Thursday. But the landfall cone now covers most of the state as Ian’s path adjusts somewhat northward. The Kennedy Space Center is near Orlando, on the Atlantic coast, but could be in Ian’s path.

The National Hurricane Center shared new path projections Saturday morning. It’s 11 a.m. Eastern advisory said Ian is expected to “rapidly intensify” this weekend. It’s projected to cause heavy rainfall and flash flooding, leading to possible mudslides in Jamaica and Cuba. Hurricane conditions are possible over the Cayman Islands by early Monday.

NASA May Move Artemis Rocket Stack Inside By Sunday

As of Saturday, the Artemis rocket stack still is on the launch pad. NASA is considering whether to roll the rocket stack back into the Vehicle Assembly Hall at the space center. NASA will make the decision after consulting with the National Hurricane Center, NOAA and the U.S. Space Force. Here’s why the rocket stack could stay outside on the launch pad. It can withstand sustained winds of 85 miles per hour. That’s about Cat 1 hurricane strength.

CNN reported that if NASA decides to roll back the Artemis rocket stack, it wouldn’t start the process until Sunday.

NASA could start to move the Artemis Rocket stack inside Sunday. It can withstand winds of 85 mph. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The goal of the Artemis Rocket Launch test flight is to send an unpiloted Orion crew capsule on a flight around the moon. NASA hopes to use the test flight to pave the way for the first piloted launch in 2024, followed by a moon landing as early as 2025.

Now, on the hurricane side of things, after a very slow storm season, the tropics came to life this past week. Hurricane Fiona, after smashing Puerto Rico, landed in Nova Scotia. Meanwhile, the Weather Channel’s Molly McCollum shared the current map of all the systems. Two tropical storms formed Friday. There’s now another area of interest — 99L.