NASA will wait until at least mid-November for the next launch attempt of the giant SLS rocket with the Orion space capsule. Hurricane Ian, which recently passed through Florida, did not cause any significant damage to the “Space Launch System” (SLS) or the launch pad. However, the US space agency still needs some time for more detailed investigations and wants to give the employees the opportunity to take care of private matters after the storm before the Artemis-1 moon mission can be launched.
The next launch window for the SLS flight to the moon opens on October 17th and closes on October 31st, 2022. The next opportunity for a launch attempt would be between November 12th and 27th. NASA has now issued this time as a target, after the launch vehicle, spaceship and launch pad had not suffered any storm damage at first glance.
More time for investigations and employees
Still, NASA wants to focus on November, stating, “Focusing efforts on the launch phase in November gives Kennedy staff time to attend to the needs of their families and homes after the storm and teams to complete additional checkouts identify what is required before returning to the launch pad for launch.”
SLS and Orion had been returned to the hangar before the hurricane hit to avoid worse. Nevertheless, there was an incident during the return transport, which, according to NASA, had no major consequences.
A launch attempt in October was previously described as a challenge. According to NASA, the employees need at least one and a half weeks for start preparations on the ramp. That would have left the engineers only a few weeks until the end of October for more detailed investigations and maintenance in the hangar.
Unloved night starts in November
However, the November launch window also has its downsides, SpaceNews reports. Accordingly, the possible start times are often at night. From November 12 to 19, for example, a launch would be between midnight and 2 a.m. local time. In the period from November 22nd to 27th, morning take-offs would be possible.
NASA prefers a daylight launch because it would make it easier to track the rocket. However, a night start is not excluded. According to a NASA employee, the risk and benefit would be weighed up. According to the space agency, there is still no timeframe in November for the next launch attempt. In the coming days, the scope of the work to be carried out in the hangar will be assessed and a concrete date for the next launch attempt will be set.
SpaceX mission starts today
With Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad intact, the Crew-5 mission, which will bring SpaceX four astronauts from the United States, Japan and Russia to the ISS, is scheduled for launch today, October 5. The start at around 6 p.m. German time will be broadcast live by NASA as usual.
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