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Approaching storm may delay launch try for NASA moon rocket


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida –

An approaching storm threatens to delay NASA’s next attempt to launch its new lunar rocket, which has been on the ground for weeks due to fuel leaks.

A tropical depression in the southern Caribbean is moving towards Florida and could become a major hurricane.

On Friday, managers said the rocket was ready to launch on Tuesday for its first test flight without astronauts after more hydrogen leaks were overcome during refueling tests earlier this week.

NASA said it will continue to monitor the forecast and will decide by Saturday not only whether to not only delay the launch, but also move the rocket from the pad back to the hangar. Officials said it’s unclear when the next launch attempt will be in October or even November if the rocket has to seek shelter indoors.

It takes three days to prepare the rocket to return it to the giant Kennedy Space Center vehicle assembly building, four miles away.

“I don’t think we’re getting close to that,” said NASA’s Tom Whitmyer, deputy assistant administrator for research systems. “We’re just taking it step by step.”

This will be the third attempt to launch the Space Launch System rocket, the most powerful ever built by NASA. Fuel leaks and other technical problems nullified the first two attempts.

The 322-foot (98-meter) rocket can withstand wind gusts of 85 mph (137 km/h) on the pad, but only 46 mph (74 km/h) while moving.



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