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Artemis I launch attempt set for Tuesday, but possible hurricane could delay plans

Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — NASA said Friday it is planning its third launch attempt of Artemis I on Sept. 27 after scrubbing the initial endeavor earlier this month.

During a press conference, officials said the launch window will open at 11:37 a.m. ET, but Tropical Depression Nine could delay plans.

Currently, there is only a 20% chance of favorable weather on Tuesday as Tropical Depression Nine heads towards Florida and may make landfall as a major hurricane next week.

However, Tom Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, said the team is not assuming the launch will be canceled just yet.

“It’s still a tropical depression number nine, it’s not a named storm,” Whitmeyer told reporters. “We really want to continue to try to get as much information as we can so we can make the best possible decision for the hardware.”

The team said it will continue to monitor the weather and will decide on Saturday whether to continue with the Tuesday launch.

NASA had to scrub the first launch attempt on Aug. 29 because of a faulty temperature sensor and the second attempt on Sept. 3 due to a liquid hydrogen leak.

Since then, engineers and mission managers have been running tests to make sure the rocket is ready during its next attempt.

In a press release, NASA said the Artemis team encountered a hydrogen leak during a test run on Wednesday, but the issue was addressed and resolved.

The process of tanking, which includes filling the rocket’s core stage with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, was also successful.

“We had a very successful tanking test all of the tanks,” John Blevins, NASA’s Space Launch System chief engineer, said during the press conference. “We were able to do some things that we won’t have to do again, some things that we intended to do even on launch day that were left over from previous dress rehearsals. So, it was a very successful.”

If the launch is scrubbed on Sept. 27, the next launch attempt will occur on Sunday, Oct. 2.

If that Oct. 2 is also a no-go, the rocket will be taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center until the team decides on the next date.

Over the course of the Artemis missions, NASA plans to eventually send the first female astronaut and the first astronaut of color to the moon.

The federal space agency also plans to establish a moon base as a steppingstone to send astronauts to Mars by 2024 or 2025.

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