Subtropical Storm Nicole delays SpaceX launch; Artemis 1 rocket stays on pad – Spaceflight Now


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Area Power Station earlier than launch with the SES 22 communications satellite tv for pc. Credit score: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

SpaceX has pushed again the flight of its subsequent Falcon 9 rocket from Tuesday to Saturday as Subtropical Storm Nicole threatens the east coast of Florida, officers stated Monday. However NASA is retaining its Artemis 1 moon rocket on the launch pad at Kennedy Area Heart in preparation for a launch try subsequent week.

The following Falcon 9 rocket launch was scheduled for a two-hour window opening at 11:06 a.m. EST (1606 GMT) Tuesday from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Area Power Station. SpaceX is now concentrating on the launch for Saturday at about the identical time with Intelsat’s Galaxy 31 and 32 business communications satellites.

“Groups on the Cape are getting ready for Tropical Storm Nicole and at the moment are concentrating on no sooner than Saturday, November 12, for Falcon 9’s launch of the Intelsat G-31/G-32 mission to orbit from SLC-40,” SpaceX stated in a tweet Monday. “The automobile and payload are safe within the hangar and can stay there by way of the length of the storm.”

The launch will deploy the Galaxy 31 and 32 satellites, stacked one on high of the opposite, right into a geostationary switch orbit for Intelsat. The satellites will present C-band tv broadcast companies throughout america, persevering with Intelsat’s program to clear C-band spectrum underneath a Federal Communications Fee directive to transform some C-band frequencies utilized in satellite tv for pc video broadcasting to terrestrial cellphone companies.

Intelsat and SES, two of the biggest communications satellite tv for pc operators for video companies, ordered new spacecraft to cowl a extra slender portion of the C-band spectrum. SES has launched three new C-band satellites this 12 months, and Intelsat despatched two into orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket in October, with extra to return.

SpaceX will expend the booster on the Falcon 9 rocket for the Galaxy 31/32 mission. Intelsat officers stated the corporate paid SpaceX an additional payment to commit all the rocket’s propellant to boosting the satellites into the next orbit, nearer to their closing working place. The tradeoff means the Galaxy 31 and 32 satellites will have the ability to enter business companies months before if the SpaceX booster reserved a few of its propellant for touchdown.

The mission will mark SpaceX’s 52nd launch of the 12 months, with roughly a dozen Falcon rocket missions will on the schedule earlier than the tip of 2022.

In the meantime, just a few miles to the north of pad 40, NASA’s Artemis 1 moon rocket is being ready for a launch try as quickly as Nov. 14 to start a long-delayed unpiloted take a look at flight. NASA’s human-rated Orion spacecraft will separate from the rocket and enter orbit across the moon for a sequence of checkouts earlier than the company commits to flying astronauts on the subsequent SLS/Orion mission.

NASA’s Area Launch System moon rocket on pad 39B. Credit score: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA stated Monday that managers have determined to maintain the 322-foot-tall (98-meter) Artemis 1 moon rocket on Launch Advanced 39B as Subtropical Storm Nicole approaches Florida. NASA rolled the rocket again to the launch pad Friday after transferring it again into the Car Meeting Constructing in late September to take shelter from Hurricane Ian.

“Primarily based on present forecast knowledge, managers have decided the Area Launch System rocket and Orion will stay at Launch Pad 39B,” NASA stated in an announcement Monday. “Groups at Kennedy will proceed to watch the climate, be certain all personnel are secure, and can consider the standing of the Monday, Nov. 14, launch try for the Artemis 1 mission as we proceed and obtain up to date predictions in regards to the climate.”

As of 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) Monday, the Nationwide Hurricane Heart predicts Subtropical Storm Nicole might develop into a hurricane because it strikes west over the Atlantic Ocean towards Florida, probably making landfall south of Cape Canaveral late Wednesday or early Thursday. The storm had most sustained winds of 45 mph Monday morning.

Pad 39B doesn’t have a moveable gantry to guard the SLS moon rocket, however the large automobile is designed to resist wind gusts as much as 85 mph, or 74 knots, on the launch facility.

If the unhealthy climate this week doesn’t delay launch preparations, NASA hopes to start out a two-day countdown Saturday culminating in a launch alternative for Artemis 1 throughout a 69-minute window opening Monday at 12:07 a.m. EST (0507 GMT). NASA has penciled in backup launch makes an attempt Nov. 16 and 19, and the present launch interval runs till Nov. 27.

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Observe Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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