KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - The Artemis I Space Launch System Rocket will be pulled down from the launch pad and rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) Monday night due to Hurricane Ian, NASA said. The massive rocket will begin the rollback process Monday night at 11 p.m., further delaying the anticipated mission.
That means NASA will have to wait to launch until mid-November.
"Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area. The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system," NASA said in a blog post.
Until the 4-mile journey back to the hangar, the moon rocket remains vertical at Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39B on Florida's east coast. To make an informed decision, NASA considered the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Space Force, and the National Hurricane Center.
NASA associate administrator of science Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen said the space agency has been prioritizing the people working on the mission who may be impacted by Hurricane Ian as well as the mission.
NASA has attempted twice to launch the Artemis 1 Mission, its highly anticipated space race back to the moon, but had to scrub both attempts due to hydrogen leaks that arose during both attempts. NASA canceled its scheduled Tuesday launch due to then-Tropical Storm Ian.
There are 12 launch opportunities between Nov. 12-27 with no launch availability on Nov. 13, 20, 21, and 26.