As Tropical Storm Nicole threatens to make landfall shortly, NASA's plans to send a rocket to the moon under the Artemis 1 program might be thwarted, according to weather reports from the US State of Florida.
Nicole was expected to become a hurricane by Wednesday or early Thursday near the Bahamas and then make landfall in Florida, where the Kennedy Space Center is located, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC). A hurricane warning has already been issued for the Florida East coast.
NASA announced Monday that it would leave on its launch pad the rocket that had to be returned in late September to its assembly building a few miles away to protect it from Hurricane Ian. The agency also said it would evaluate the status of the liftoff attempt scheduled for Nov. 14 based on evolving weather conditions.
The unmanned Artemis 1 test mission will mark the first flight of the main U.S. program to return to the Moon. In its next stages, the Artemis program aims to land the first woman and the first Afrodescendant person on the Moon, no earlier than 2025.
The NHC said late Tuesday that Nicole was about 150 miles east-northeast of Great Abaco Island in the northwestern Bahamas and about 325 miles east of West Palm Beach on Florida's east coast. The tropical storm was moving west-southwest at about 10 mph and was expected to move near or over the Bahamas on Wednesday. The storm will then approach the east coast of Florida by Wednesday night, the NHC said. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 34 counties in the potential path of the storm.
While this storm does not, at this time, appear that it will become much stronger, I urge all Floridians to be prepared and to listen to announcements from local emergency management officials, the governor said in a press release Monday. We will continue to monitor the trajectory and strength of this storm as it moves toward Florida.
When it formed on Saturday just south of Puerto Rico, the tropical rainstorm deluged the island with several inches of heavy rainfall. The tropical rainstorm crossed from the Caribbean Sea into the far southwestern Atlantic Ocean early Sunday.