The US space agency, NASA, has postponed the launch, scheduled for next week, of its new lunar rocket, due to a tropical storm that is expected to turn into a massive hurricane.
This is the third postponement within a month of the test flight, which is intended to orbit the moon, but will not carry astronauts but just dolls, in a follow-up to the “Apollo” program to land on the moon, affiliated with NASA half a century ago.
Hydrogen fuel leaks and other technical problems have caused the previous two delays.
Tropical Storm Ian, currently circulating in the Caribbean, is expected to turn into a hurricane by Monday and hit the Florida Gulf Coast by Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
However, the entire state is at the center of the hurricane as the likely path of the storm’s center appears, including NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Given the expected uncertainty, NASA decided on Saturday to abandon the planned launch attempt on Tuesday. Instead, the agency is preparing the 98-meter missile for a possible return to its hangar.
Officials are scheduled to decide on Sunday whether to remove him from the launch pad.
If the rocket remains on the platform, NASA may attempt to launch it on October 2, the last chance before a two-week layoff.
But a pullback late Sunday or early Monday would likely mean a long delay for the test flight, possibly pushing it into November.
It is noteworthy that the rocket is the most powerful among the rockets ever made by NASA. Assuming its first test flight goes well, astronauts will board a next mission in 2024, which will lead to a two-person moon landing in 2025.