NASA has once again delayed the launch of its new moon rocket, Artemis, from Cape Canaveral amid the threat of a tropical storm that could become a major hurricane, the Associated Press reports.
Artemis’ launch, which was set to take place next week, has now been delayed three times in the past month, having previously been postponed due to hydrogen fuel leaks and other technical issues.
The latest postponement comes as Tropical Storm Ian continues to churn in the Caribbean and is expected to gain strength as a hurricane by Monday (September 26) before reaching Florida’s Gulf coast by Thursday (September 29).
NASA could reschedule the launch for October 2 at the earliest if the rocket remains at the pad, but would otherwise face a two-week blackout period, according to the AP.
However, a rollback on Sunday (September 25) or Monday may instead lead to the test flight being pushed back to November.
Last month, NASA scrubbed the launch of Artemis due to an “engine bleed that couldn’t be remedied,” the agency said during its livestream of the scheduled launch.
NASA officials called for a hold in their countdown at approximately T-minus 40 minutes to launch due to what commentator Derrol Nail referred to as an “engine bleed,” which was “something they wanted to test,” the New York Times reports.
“This was the first opportunity for this team to see this live in action,” Nail said, noting that engineers referred to it as “a particularly tricky issue.”
NASA said the earliest new launch date “depending on what happens with this engine bleed” would be September 2.
Officials confirmed on August 28 that five lightning strikes hit the 600-foot towers surrounding the Artemis rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on August 27, however, the rocket nor capsule experienced any damage, NBC News reports.
The 322-foot-tall empty vessel was set to journey around the moon and is reported to be the most powerful Space Launch System rocket ever built by the agency.