KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida – All eyes are on Florida’s Space Coast to see history in the making on Saturday as NASA attempts to launch a mega moon rocket on a 37-day mission that will orbit the moon and return to Earth.
The window for the second launch attempt of the Space System rocket and the Orion spacecraft is scheduled to open at 2:17 p.m. on September 3.
“We’re pre-empting our launch attempt on Saturday. We’re comfortable with our risk posture. That said, there’s no guarantee we’ll lift off on Saturday, but we’ll try,” the mission manager said. Artemis, Mike Sarafin, Thursday night. . “The technical teams have done a huge job in a very short time to get us here.”
Weather officers from the 45th Space Force Weather Squadron continue to monitor an easterly flow off the Atlantic, which is expected to produce scattered showers and thunderstorms, but the majority of activity will be within the lands.
Space weather officer Melody Lovin of the 45th Weather Squadron said the weather continued to be “good enough” for the second launch attempt on Saturday.
“We expect our weather to start off a bit dicey as we enter the 11:00, 12:00 timeframe,” Lovin said. “However, as this east coast sea breeze drifts further inland, we expect clearing aft of it.”
At the opening of the 2:17 p.m. window, the weather will be 60% favorable for take-off. However, at the end of the 2 hour window, it will improve to 80% “GB”.
If the weather cancels the launch, NASA could try again Monday at 5:12 p.m. Weather for the backup date is 70% favorable but there is more uncertainty with this forecast, Lovin said, as a ridge will likely be over the space center on Monday evening.
Forecasters believe cumulus clouds, rain and lightning could still be a threat and gave the rocket a 60% launch probability at the start of the window.
“The later timing of the launch window on Monday should allow for a decent stretch of favorable weather as the spaceport basks in sag behind the sea breeze boundary,” according to the latest forecast from the 45th Weather Squadron.
HERE’S WHY THE ARTEMIS 1 LAUNCH WAS CLEARED ON MONDAY
If the launch fails on Saturday, depending on the reason for the delay, NASA could try again Monday at 5:12 p.m.
NASA’s first attempt to launch the Artemis 1 lunar rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday hit a few hiccups during the countdown that caused the launch director to scrub liftoff until a problem with purge with a rocket engine could be resolved and resolved.
A lightning strike near the launch pad on Saturday prompted NASA teams to examine the systems for any potential damage. So far the review has gone well, which means the countdown continues.
WHAT WILL NASA’S ARTEMIS 1 MISSION DO?
It’s summer in Florida, and all the storms coming in bring increased cloud cover, rain, and lightning. This is problematic for the Space Launch System rocket which cannot fly through rain or clouds. Launch weather officers will be looking to thread the needle for the launch.
The SLS can only be launched under specific weather criteria, including constraints regarding temperature, wind, rain, cloud cover and lightning.
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The 322-foot-tall rocket requires more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic fuel. Teams will not begin filling the rocket with fuel if the temperature is above 94.5 degrees Fahrenheit above 132.5 feet. Tanking can’t start below 41.4 degrees, but that won’t be an issue for this August launch window.
The SLS cannot be launched in rain and takeoff will be delayed if winds are between 29 and 39 knots (33 and 44 mph) above 132.5 feet.
Altitude winds are also a factor. The rocket will not launch if mission officials think winds could create a problem for the launch vehicle during ascent.
Cumulus cloud cover within 10 nautical miles could also delay the launch, depending on cloud type, distance and height. The launch director will not allow the countdown to continue if the SLS flight path is within 3 nautical miles of a thunderstorm debris cloud.
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The launch complex must also be free of lightning for 30 minutes after a lightning strike is observed within 10 nautical miles.
Lightning near Kennedy Space Center delayed the deployment of the SLS to the launch pad last week. Once cleared, the teams made the 4 mile run to Launch Pad 39B.
This story will be updated daily with new predictions until the launch of Artemis 1 on September 3.
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