NASA’s Artemis I moon mission launch rescheduled for Saturday
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NASA’s Artemis I moon mission launch rescheduled for Saturday

US space agency pushed back Friday launch due to bad weather, launch could still be postponed until next Monday

News Service AA

NASA announced late Tuesday that it is pushing back its Artemis I moon launch to Saturday due to bad weather forecast for Friday.

"Looking forward to Saturday, weather would be a little bit different than what we experienced yesterday," said weather officer Mark Berger of the US Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron during a news conference.

The new launch time is scheduled for 2.17 p.m. (1817GMT) at the Kennedy Space Center in the US state of Florida.

Berger explained that Saturday's forecast includes a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the morning and early afternoon with a 60% chance of a weather violation during the launch window.

"We will have a fairly strong onshore flow, and so that does favor showers and possibly a few thunderstorms moving in from the coast during the morning and early afternoon hours," he said. "I'm optimistic that we'll have at least some clear air to work with during the afternoon to count on Saturday."

The unmanned Artemis I launch was scrubbed on Monday just prior to blasting off due to problems with fueling one of its four brand-new engines.

NASA said Engine 3 could not reach the proper cooling temperature required for liftoff and explained there was also a vent valve issue with one of the inner tanks, which ultimately led to cancelling the countdown.

If the weather does not cooperate on Saturday, NASA said the launch could still be pushed back a few more days to Monday.

The Artemis I stack, which includes the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, continues to sit on the launch pad, but NASA said if the launch is scrubbed on Monday, Artemis I will have to be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Officials said the rollback would have to be done because the flight termination batteries which allow Artemis to be blown up if it veers off course run low after 25 days.

If Monday's final attempt is a no-go, NASA said the Artemis I launch will have to be rescheduled for later in September.

The Artemis I mission is the first of three space flights in the US space agency's premiere space exploration project.

Artemis II and Artemis III will aim to return humans to the moon with the eventual goal of carrying out missions on Mars.

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