Nasa's $4.1bn Artemis 1 Moon rocket to stay on launch pad despite storm Nicole

There are concerns the storm could turn into a hurricane when it strikes Florida this week

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Nasa will keep the Artemis 1 Moon rocket on its launch pad even though subtropical storm Nicole is approaching Florida.

Weather forecasts show the storm could turn into a hurricane by the time it hits south-east Florida later this week.

The $4.1 billion Artemis rocket called Space Launch System, with the Orion spacecraft on top of it, was moved to a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Centre on November 4 ahead of a launch attempt on November 14.

Nasa said in a statement on Monday that it was monitoring the weather event.

“Nasa is working with US Space Force and the National Hurricane Centre to monitor Subtropical Storm Nicole,” the US space agency said.

“Based on current forecast data, managers have determined the Space Launch System rocket and Orion will remain at Launch Pad 39B.

“Teams at Kennedy will continue to monitor the weather, make sure all personnel are safe, and will evaluate the status of the Monday, November 14, launch attempt for the Artemis 1 mission as we proceed and receive updated predictions about the weather.”

The Atlantic hurricane season will run until November 30.

Artemis 1 is an uncrewed test flight around the Moon that will measure the rocket and Orion spacecraft's performance.

If successful, it would pave the way for the Artemis programme, which aims to build a long-term human presence on the Moon.

Nasa had rolled the rocket back to the Vehicle Assembly Building in September when Hurricane Ian had struck the US state.

Two previous attempts to launch the rocket have failed because of technical problems, including a hydrogen leak.

There are backup dates of November 16 and 19 if the November 14 launch attempt is not possible.

Updated: November 08, 2022, 10:22 AM