TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — NASA’s Artemis I spaceship, scheduled to take flight in just six days, suffered “very minor damage” during Tropical Storm Nicole’s passage over much of south and central Florida Thursday.
The public space agency said an initial check of the rocket, spacecraft, and ground systems using cameras at the launch pad checked out.
“Camera inspections show very minor damage such as loose caulk and tears in weather coverings,” said Jim Free, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development. “The team will conduct additional onsite walk-down inspections of the vehicle soon.”
Free added his team of NASA engineers took the decision to keep Orion and SLS at the launch pad “very seriously,” determining a return to the Vehicle Assembly Building would be “too risky in high winds.”
The team ultimately decided the launch pad was the safest place for the rocket to weather the storm.
“While wind sensors at the launch pad detected peak wind gusts of up to 82 mph at the 60-foot level, this is within the rocket’s capability,” Free said. “We anticipate clearing the vehicle for those conditions shortly,” Free added.
NASA said it plans to attempt the launch of the mission on Wednesday, Nov. 16 if conditions are safe for employees to return to work and inspections pass after the storm.