NASA’s Artemis I moon mission has once again been delayed.
With Hurricane Nicole set to make landfall in Florida late Wednesday or early Thursday morning, the administration has “decided to re-target a launch for the Artemis I mission for Wednesday, Nov. 16, pending safe conditions for employees to return to work, as well as inspections after the storm has passed.”
Until today, crews were set to take off on Nov. 14, but NASA wants to ensure that its Artemis team is able to “tend to the needs of their families and homes” should the hurricane cause further damage following the devastation of Ian, which hit the state less than a month ago.
This will be the fifth time that NASA has been forced to push the launch date. Hurricane Ian caused the two most recent disruptions. A hydrogen leak also grounded the $4 billion rocket in September. And in August, a system check revealed an engine problem.
NASA’s Artemis Mission to Take People to the Moon by 2025
If the rocket is lucky enough to get off the ground this month, it will be the start of a three-part mission that NASA will carry out through 2025.
For the first launch, Artemis 1 will take instruments into the lunar orbit on an attached Orion spacecraft. Those instruments will gather data for Artemis II. The second mission will hopefully take place in 2024 and carry astronauts around the moon.
Artemis III aims to put humans on the surface of the moon’s South Pole. While there, they will collect various samples and study the now-confirmed water ice.
Administrator Bill Nelson reported that the first stage, which will last roughly 40 days, will be even harder to complete than they originally expected. And the team is anxious to see how the new technology fares in the outer reaches of the cosmos.
Also, the Artemis I will prove whether or not NASA can re-enter the spacecraft from a lunar orbit. If that fails, they will have to rethink their plan to ensure that they can not only take astronauts to the moon but also deliver them safely back to Earth.
“Orion will venture farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown,” he said in a press conference. “It will be on a mission of over a million miles [1.6 million kilometers] to the moon and back, in all kinds of orbits around the moon testing the spacecraft … then after its long flight test, Orion will come home faster and hotter than any spacecraft has before.”