NASA will no longer launch the Artemis 1 mission on September 27th. The rocket has been stationed at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39B since last month and has been plagued by delays since it's arrival at the location. Now, NASA officials are being forced to roll back the entire rocket to the Vehicle Assembly Building because of Tropical Storm Ian, which is expected to make landfall later this week as a hurricane.
As officials don't want the rocket at the launchpad when the storm makes landfall, the Artemis 1 team will begin moving the rocket back to the VAB late Monday night. All in all, the journey from the launchpad to its holding spot will take between eight to 10 hours. Officials have yet to release a new target launch date.
"The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system," the agency wrote in a blog post Monday. "The time of first motion also is based on the best predicted conditions for rollback to meet weather criteria for the move."
The mission is made up of the SLS and the Orion space capsule, which will be without a crew for this mission. Once out of the Earth's atmosphere, the Orion capsule and SLS are set to separate, sending the former on a 42-day test flight around the moon. Artemis II will then feature a crew on a similar flight path. Artemis III, currently scheduled to launch in 2025, will then return America to the lunar surfaced for the first time since 1972.
"We do not launch until we think it's right," NASA administrator Bill Nelson told members of the media after a delay earlier this month. "These teams have labored over that and that is the conclusion they came to. I look at this as part of our space program, in which safety is the top of the list."