Tropical weather could delay launch of NASA’s Artemis lunar rocket

NASA said it will monitor the prediction and decide whether to postpone the launch no later than Saturday.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — An approaching storm threatens to delay NASA’s next launch attempt for its New Moon rocket, which has been grounded for weeks by fuel leaks.

A tropical depression in the southern Caribbean is heading towards Florida and could become a major hurricane.

Managers said Friday the rocket is ready to lift off on Tuesday for its first test flight without astronauts, after overcoming further hydrogen leaks during a refueling test earlier this week.

NASA said it will continue to monitor the prediction and decide no later than Saturday whether to not only delay launch but to tow the rocket off the pad and back to the hangar. Officials said it was unclear when the next launch attempt would take place – whether October or even November – if the missile would have to seek shelter indoors.

RELATED: NASA adjusts potential launch dates for Artemis 1

It takes three days of preparation to bring the rocket back to Kennedy Space Center’s massive vehicle assembly building four miles away.

“I don’t think we’re close,” said Tom Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy assistant administrator for exploration systems. “We’re just taking one step at a time.”

This would be the third launch attempt for the Space Launch System rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA. Fuel leaks and other technical problems scrapped the first two attempts.

The 322-foot rocket can withstand gusts of 85 mph at the pad but only 46 mph when in motion.

RELATED: NASA refuels Artemis lunar rocket in test hit by pesky leaks again Tropical weather could delay launch of NASA’s Artemis lunar rocket

Laura Coffey

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