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NASA is rolling the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule back to the Vehicle Assembly Building tonight as Florida braces for Hurricane Ian which will become the heaviest in 100 years — and the move leaves the historic moon mission in limbo.
The rollback means the historic Artemis I mission will be launched during the launch window that ends on October 4.
Tuesday’s lunar mission was canceled over the weekend, but the US space agency was still deciding whether to bring Artemis I back to the staging area.
SLS is set to make the return trip at 11 p.m. ET, when it will travel about a mile per hour back to the building, which will take several days.
NASA will roll the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule back to the Vehicle Assembly Building tonight. Pictured is the rocket currently on the launch pad
NASA announced its decision Monday at 10:07 a.m. ET, indicating it will also “give employees time to meet the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system,” a statement from the agency reads. .
Artemis I is the first of three phases that aim to put human boots back on the moon – the last time being in 1972.
However, the first phase has yet to get off the ground due to several technical issues that have canceled out two previous attempts – Tuesday marks the third scrubbed mission.
Tropical Storm Ian is about to undergo explosive intensification into a major hurricane en route to Florida from Grand Cayman
Artemis 1, NASA’s rocket that aims to take astronauts back to the moon after a 50-year hiatus, has been delayed again due to approaching Tropical Storm Ian
A line of shoppers is seen outside a retail warehouse as Floridians rush to prepare for the storm, which is expected to be a strong hurricane
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency across the state and its 67 counties on Saturday afternoon, sparking stores full of panicked shoppers.
The rocket’s first launch failed at the end of August due to technical problems, while the second attempt was halted in September by a fuel leak.
However, when Orion flies into space, cameras will capture every moment of the 42-day journey, including what is said to be an epic image of the spacecraft with the moon and Earth in the background.
Artemis I is designed to show that the SLS rocket and Orion capsule are ready to carry astronauts for Artemis II, and ultimately for the Artemis III mission to return humans to the moon. The first mission is released.
Tropical Storm Ian is expected to strengthen into a hurricane Monday and reach a “major” hurricane-force on Tuesday — something of Category 3 or higher — before reaching Cuba.
The storm is expected to make landfall in Florida mid-week, either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, bringing with it wind gusts of 130 mph.
“Ian will become a large and powerful hurricane in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and will spread its impact across much of the Florida peninsula,” said Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Hurricane Center.
“The fragility of the wave action along Florida’s west coast is very extreme,” Rhome said, pointing out that “it doesn’t take an onshore or direct hit from a hurricane to pile up the water.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency across the state and its 67 counties on Saturday afternoon as a sign of deep concern.
The cities of Orlando, Panama City and Tampa are all in Tropical Storm Ian’s path, according to The Weather Channel’s most recent projections. Parts of Alabama and Georgia are also likely to be affected.
Residents in the projected path have been urged to make hurricane preparations as officials at the National Hurricane Center warn of the higher-than-normal degree of “uncertainty” in the storm’s forecast path and intensity.
Repeating the uncertainty surrounding Ian’s path, DeSantis said, “Don’t think that if you’re not in that eye, somehow you don’t have to prepare.”
DeSantis also warned of the storm’s unpredictability, saying residents who are not in the eye of the storm should still exercise caution and prepare.
A National Weather Service image shows potential storm surge depths in South Florida and warns they are likely to be joined by ‘large and destructive waves’
Cars line up at a Costco gas station in Orlando, Florida as residents rush to stock up on gas for the approaching storm
The National Hurricane Center is warning of storm surges in parts of Florida’s coast, including the Florida Keys, as forecasters predict water levels could rise several feet.
The Center also forecast that some parts of the state could receive 6 inches of rain through Tuesday evening and warned of possible flash flooding.
John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist, said Sunday it is not clear where Ian will hit the hardest in Florida.
Residents should begin preparations, including gathering supplies for potential power outages, he said.
“It’s hard to say you have to stay informed, but that’s the right message now,” he said. “It’s still time to get your supplies.”
Meanwhile, authorities in Cuba are preparing for Tropical Storm Ian by evacuating some parts of the island and suspending classes at schools in the western part of the island.
At 11 p.m. EST Sunday, Ian was moving northwest at a speed of 21 miles per hour, about 140 miles south of Grand Cayman, according to downtown. It had a maximum sustained wind of 65 mph.
President Biden also declared a state of emergency in Florida and activated federal emergency aid for the state just an hour before canceling his visit to Florida to campaign with Democrats’ midterm candidates.