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Artemis I's SLS Rocket Safe In VAB From Florida's Worst Superstorm, Here's What's Next

Very little has gone to plan in regards to NASA's Artemis I mission since its SLS rocket with Orion Command Module and European Service Module in tow left the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But as the surrounding Orlando Metro Area battles flooding on its roads and far, far worse elsewhere in the state. It's all suddenly in perspective.
VAB with Artemis I's SLS 21 photos
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It's hard to fathom the level of destruction that Hurricane Ian, which can now in good confidence be called a superstorm, levied on the State of Florida. It's a difficult subject to discuss for obvious reasons, and we will avoid talking about the graphic details out of respect for the victims. But at least from NASA's point of view, there's a sense that bringing Artemis I's 321-foot SLS rocket back to its gargantuan assembly building was a chance to regroup after a brutal month of September. One which presented more challenges than the average outsider could have ever anticipated.

The catastrophe served as a brief intermission for the leviathan triple-stage, super heavy-lift rocket capable in theory of bringing humans to the surface of the Moon and potentially Mars further down the line. For starters, the first two launch attempts, on August 29th and September 5th this year, were scrubbed due to anomalies in the temperature sensors inside of the rocket's main engine, followed by a cryogenic hydrogen leak during fueling in its main propellant tank.

The most catastrophic storm to hit Central Florida in centuries has NASA's prized rocket sitting in the VAB, where it can finally get that combination of TLC and R&D that solves these issues and gets Americans back into deep space. As for what happens next? For starters, any hope of making the third scheduled launch window was well out the door more than a week ago.

A new launch window has yet to be announced. But relatively calm Florida climate in November compared to August or September might benefit a Space Program that will happily accept any stroke of good luck it can manage. They have the brains and the science to make things work. Sometimes, luck's the only thing missing. But ultimately, the U.S. Space Force's 45th Weather Division will have the final say on whether or not conditions are appropriate for launch. Until then, Artemis I will stay inside the VAB.

 
 
 
 
 

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