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NASA will leave its $4.1 billion rocket outside as Nicole approaches Florida

NASA's Space Launch System will make a nighttime launch on its current timeline.

Enlarge / NASA’s Space Launch System will make a nighttime launch on its current timeline. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

As subtropical storm Nicole moved across the Atlantic Ocean toward Florida on Monday afternoon, NASA confirmed that its Artemis I mission would remain at the launch pad along the state’s east coast.

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

The risks to these large and costly vehicles are non-zero, however, and appear to be rising as Nicole starts to strengthen. The space agency’s primary concern from tropical systems is winds. Much of the rocket’s structure is pretty robust, such as its tank-like solid rocket boosters. But there are sensitive elements prone to damage from debris and wearing effects due to high winds inside a tropical system.

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