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NASA managers might forego SLS rollback and aim for Oct 2nd launch

Based on the present hurricane track, NASA managers are considering the possibility of leaving SLS on the launchpad so that they can go for a launch on October 2, 2022.

NASA managers will meet this evening to evaluate whether to roll back or remain at the launch pad to preserve an opportunity for a launch attempt on Oct. 2. The exact time of a potential rollback will depend on future weather predictions throughout the day and could occur Monday or very early Tuesday morning.

If they stay on the launchpad, it means the flight termination system is questionable at launch. If the rocket goes out of control during its first test launch — a not-unreasonable possibility for a new rocket — there is a chance the range officer will not be able to destroy it.

If they roll back to the assembly building, it means the rocket’s two solid strap-on boosters will either have to be replaced, delaying the launch months more, or the rocket will launch with two boosters that are questionable.

Every choice they face is a bad one, simply because this rocket is really not well designed for practical use.

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8 comments

  • Joe

    With both of these issues, you would think NASA would be a bit more cautious. If this had been SpaceX or anyone else, they would be grounded.

    The big question I have is: why put the batteries for the flight termination system somewhere that they cannot be replaced on the pad. That is a very bad design choice.

  • Andi

    Or even worse, why didn’t they use rechargeable batteries that could be topped up via umbilical? That would seem to avoid this problem completely.

  • wayne

    Marooned – (1969)
    “bad weather launch scene”
    https://youtu.be/yD1hbplN4DE?t=189

  • Mitch S.

    I was waiting for wayne to post that!
    It’s urgent to launch SLS before Musk launches Starship, keep it out there and if the storm comes over launch through the eye !
    (Yeah, there’s that 75mph wind limit while on the tower/pad but surely a waiver can be had…)

  • sippin_bourbon

    There is one extreme option available for backups to the flight termination system.

    Have USAF position a few F-22s nearby. At launch time, of the rocket goes off course, and the Range Officer cannot terminate the flight, the F-22s can take it out, if it is headed toward populated areas. If it is just headed out to sea, let it.

    Like I said.. an extreme option. But it is always good to have options.

  • David

    I think I might have batteries on the brain these days, but I think I read something, somewhere along the way, that this bird has some cubesats that are supposed to be deployed while it circles the moon. If that’s the case, do they have limited battery life?

    A genuine thank you to Mr. Zimmerman and everyone here for all the great info about this rocket, its mission and its very, shall we say, tortured path thus far.

  • Scott M.

    Looks like they decided to roll back to the VAB, starting at 11 PM Eastern.

  • wayne

    Mitch S.
    Har–this situation was just begging for that Marooned clip.
    (Great movie, all-in-all. Saw it at a drive-in in 1969.)

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