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NASA calls off Tuesday's Artemis I launch attempt, will decide on rocket roll back Sunday

NASA's Artemis I mission awaits liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo: NASA
NASA's Artemis I mission awaits liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo: NASA

NASA is calling off a launch attempt Tuesday of its new moon rocket SLS from Kennedy Space Center as it watches the development of Tropical Storm Ian.

The rocket will remain at the launch pad -- for now -- as teams prepare for the possibility of rolling the massive 322-foot-tall rocket back to NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

NASA said it will continue to watch the development and forecast of the storm and will make that decision to move it from the launch pad Sunday.

"The agency is taking a step-wise approach to its decision making process to allow the agency to protect its employees by completing a safe roll in time for them to address the needs of their families while also protecting for the option to press ahead with another launch opportunity in the current window if weather predictions improve," NASA said in a statement.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency ahead of Ian’s potential impact -- including Brevard county, home of Kennedy Space Center.

If mission managers elect to roll back the vehicle, that would happen late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

If NASA elects to keep the vehicle at the pad, it could possibly target a launch on October 2. If the rocket leaves the pad, the next launch window opens October 17.

So far two attempts to launch NASA’s SLS rocket and Orion space capsule on an uncrewed mission to lunar orbit, called Artemis I, have been called off -- the first for engine troubles and the latest attempt was scrubbed due to a hydrogen fuel leak.

Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.

Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.