As Hurricane Ian gained momentum early this week, hurling its way toward Florida’s coast, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on Monday moved the Artemis 1 Moon rocket off historic launch pad 39B.
The SLS megarocket was transported 4 miles (6.4 km) away to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) due to the increasing severity of the storm. NASA officials had been discussing the possibility of rolling the vehicle back since late last week, but they ultimately decided to move ahead on Monday “after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area,” according to a NASA blog post.
According to the post, as part of NASA’s hurricane preparedness protocol, Kennedy Space Center is currently being monitored by a “ride out” team that will assess the storm damage and equipment from a secure location, while other employees were evacuated from the area.
After the Artemis 1 launch attempt was scrubbed on August 29, engineers have since been able to meet all preflight objectives, including fixing a pesky hydrogen leak. The proposed backup launch date was tentatively slated for September 27, however, it will now be until at least November before Artemis 1 gets another chance to blast off.
At the VAB, technicians will change the batteries on the Artemis 1’s flight termination system and retest the system prior to the next launch attempt. NASA says officials will continue to monitor conditions in the Kennedy Space Center area as they develop, determining if any storm damage will affect the rocket’s future performance.