NASA Sets New Launch Date for Artemis 1 Moon Mission Following Hurricane Ian

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

NASA has announced a new launch date for the Artemis 1 after Hurricane Ian derailed its Oct. 2nd moon mission.

On Friday (Sept. 29), the administration announced that the launch window for step one opens on Nov. 12 and closes on Nov. 27. And if all goes as planned, NASA will finally be one step closer to putting U.S. astronauts back on the moon’s surface.

The mission has been delayed on several occasions. And the most recent happened as Hurricane Ian was brewing near Cuba and threatening to bring heavy wind and rain to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida. Before the storm hit the Gulf Coast as a Cat 4, crews returned the $4 billion rocket and the attached Orion spacecraft back into the Vehicle Assembly Building for safekeeping.

“Managers met Monday morning and made the decision [to delay the launch] based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area,” NASA announced.

While Ian destroyed thousands of homes, businesses, and infrastructures and left millions without power. The Artemis 1 launch site and hardware luckily evaded serious damage.

“Facilities are in good shape with only minor water intrusion identified in a few locations,” the agency shared in a press release. 

NASA Hopes the Artemis 1 Delay Will Allow Crew Members Time to Address Damage to Homes Caused By Historic Hurricane

In the weeks leading to the hopeful takeoff, teams will be working hard to complete post-storm recovery operations. To stay on track with their November target, they will need to complete several more inspections and retests on the flight termination system.

NASA also said that it scheduled extra time to give employees a chance to deal with any damages the storm may have caused to their homes.

To date, teams have delayed the Artemis 1 mission two other times. The first came in August when teams detected an engine issue. And a hydrogen leak grounded the rocket on the second occasion the following month.

The mission will be one of three that NASA has planned between now and 2025. In November, Artemis 1 will put instruments into the lunar orbit to gather data for Artemis II. That mission should take place in 2024 and carry astronauts around the moon. Finally, Artemis III hopes to put humans back on the surface of the moon’s South Pole. While there, they will collect various samples and study the recently confirmed water ice.