CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (TUSEN) – An approaching storm threatens to delay NASA’s next launch attempt for its new moon rocket, which has been grounded for weeks due to fuel leaks.
A tropical depression in the southern Caribbean is moving towards Florida and could become a major hurricane.
Managers said Friday the rocket is ready to launch Tuesday on its first test flight without astronauts, after overcoming more hydrogen leaks during a tank test earlier this week.
NASA said it will continue to monitor the forecast and decide by Saturday whether it will not only delay the launch but drag the rocket off the pad and back to the hangar. Officials said it’s unclear when the next launch attempt would be — whether it’s October or even November — if the missile has to take shelter indoors.
It takes three days of preparation to get the rocket back to the gigantic Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center, four miles away.
“I don’t think we’re closing it,” said NASA’s Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems. “We’re taking it step by step.”
This would be the third launch attempt for the Space Launch System rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA. Fuel leaks and other technical problems made the first two attempts unnecessary.
The 98-meter rocket can withstand gusts of 85 mph (137 kph) on the trail, but only 46 mph (74 kph) once in motion.
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