NASA Changes SLS Rocket Launch Date As Tropical Storm Nicole Nears Florida

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Artemis I mission is the first integrated test of the agency’s deep space exploration systems: the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and supporting ground systems. The mission is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon. With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. Credits: NASA/Eric Bordelon

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – NASA pushed back the next launch attempt of the Artemis I mission from Monday, November 14 to Wednesday, November 16 due to Tropical Storm Nicole approaching Florida’s east coast.

“NASA is continuing to monitor Tropical Storm Nicole and has decided to re-target a launch for the Artemis I mission for Wednesday, Nov. 16, pending safe conditions for employees to return to work, as well as inspections after the storm has passed.,” NASA stated on its website.

“Adjusting the target launch date will allow the workforce to tend to the needs of their families and homes, and provide sufficient logistical time to get back into launch status following the storm.”

A launch during a two-hour window that opens at 1:04 a.m. EST on Nov. 16 would result in a splashdown on Friday, Dec. 11.

If needed, NASA has a backup launch opportunity on Saturday, Nov. 19, and will coordinate with the U.S. Space Force for additional launch opportunities.

SLS Rocket To Ride Out Storm On the Launch Pad

Based on expected weather conditions and options to roll back ahead of the storm, the agency determined Sunday evening the safest option for the launch hardware was to keep the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft secured at the pad.

The SLS rocket is designed to withstand 85 mph (74.4 knot) winds at the 60-foot level with structural margin.

Current forecasts predict the greatest risks at the pad are high winds that are not expected to exceed the SLS design.

The rocket is designed to withstand heavy rains at the launch pad and the spacecraft hatches have been secured to prevent water intrusion.