With two hurricanes in the last six weeks disrupting NASA’s plans for the maiden launch of its next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, we’re happy to report that everything is looking good for the next launch attempt planned for early on Wednesday morning.
According to a forecast from the 45th Weather Squadron, which provides detailed assessments for air and space operations in the U.S., the conditions at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are 90% favorable for the much-anticipated test flight of NASA’s new hardware.
The space agency’s two-hour launch window opens at 1:04 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, which is 10:04 p.m. PT on Tuesday night.
The excellent weather forecast will be a big relief for mission planners as it allows them to focus entirely on getting everything else right for launch.
A last-minute technical issue will be the main concern now, especially after two previous launch efforts over the summer were called off shortly before liftoff for exactly this reason.
At the end of September, NASA transported the 98-meter-tall SLS rocket four miles from the launchpad to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to shelter it from Hurricane Ian. The rocket stayed inside the building throughout October before returning to the launchpad about 10 days ago.
As Hurricane Nicole approached Florida last week, NASA officials decided this time that it was safer to leave the rocket on the launchpad rather than roll it back to the VAB again.
Their calculations proved right. Sensors on the rocket measured peak winds from the storm and NASA later confirmed that all measurements remained below 75% of the SLS rocket’s design limits. A post-storm inspection of the rocket revealed some minor damage, but it was mainly to some of the vehicle’s weather coverings. As a result, NASA officials have been able to pass the SLS rocket as fit for Wednesday’s launch.
For everything you need to know to watch the livestream of this week’s liftoff, Digital Trends has you covered.
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