NASA SLS Moon Rocket Damaged By Hurricane Nicole; Another Setback For Artemis Mission?

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NASA SLS Moon Rocket Damaged By Hurricane Nicole

NASA’s Moon ambitions might be hit with yet another setback. The space agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) Moon rocket is still waiting for its launch at the Kennedy Space Center. The rocket recently survived high-level winds caused due to Hurricane Nicole.

 

After inspecting the spacecraft for damage, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin noted that a ten feet-long piece of insulation was ripped apart from the rocket due to the hurricane, and it might not get fixed on the launch pad.

Yet Another Roadblock For NASA?

It seems like the space agency’s Moon ambitions have hit another roadblock. The Artemis I mission has already been aborted several times due to technical hurdles in the last couple of months. Later, the launch was delayed due to bad weather, pushing the launch further forward.

The piece of insulation is fitted to curb aerodynamic heating when the spacecraft ascends. The strip, called RTV, was peeled off the base of the capsule’s cone. Simply put, the spacecraft might not be ready for launch currently.

"It was an area that was about ten feet in length [on the] windward side where the storm blew through," said Sarafin, as quoted by CBS News. "It is a very, very thin layer of RTV, it's about .2 inches or less... in thickness."

Will NASA Follow The Launch Timeline?

NASA’s SLS rocket is scheduled to take off on November 16 around 1 am (Eastern time), taking the capsule into orbit, and enabling it to go to the Moon and come back to Earth. But with the latest turn of events, it remains to be seen if NASA goes ahead with the same launch schedule.

"I feel good headed into this attempt on the 16th," Sarafin said while speaking to the media. "The team is moving forward as one unit," he added. "We've just got some work to do."

NASA Artemis I Mission

Once NASA successfully launches the Artemis I mission, the space agency will send the crewed Artemis II mission and Artemis III later in 2024. The third mission will witness astronauts return to the lunar surface. Well, all that will only be possible once NASA gets the first step right.

The marquee space agency is facing immense pressure to launch the uber-expensive Space Launch System, especially after years of delay in its development and investing over $10 billion in the rocket. The launch delays will result in more pressure on the space organization.

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