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Longtime launch director has been in Artemis team's position before

todaySeptember 23, 2022 1

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Artemis team is still watching the weather to see if a Sept. 27 launch attempt is possible.

What You Need To Know

  • Bob Sieck was the NASA launch director for 52 space shuttle missions

  •  He has been with NASA since the Gemini missions in the 1960s

  • Potential severe weather is playing a significant factor in upcoming Artemis I launch plans

As a longtime launch director, Bob Sieck said he knows the ins and outs of the kinds of decisions that have to be made when it comes to weather threats. His goal is not just making sure the launch vehicle is safe, but also his team at the pad or during rollback.

Sieck’s NASA career spans nearly the entire length of the 60 year program. He started as an engineer on Gemini in the 1960s, eventually working through to the space shuttle era, when he served as the launch director for 52 missions.

If anyone knows how to watch the weather, it’s him.

“Like all weather-related calls, you wait until you absolutely can’t wait anymore, to see what the weather is going to do,” Sick said. “Then you make the call.”

Sieck said he understands what the Artemis team is going through as they watch to see what this latest storm will do as it moves closer to Florida.

His launch teams never had to rollback a shuttle because of the threat of a tropical storm or hurricane, but there were many times they had to batten down the hatches at the pad.

“We were ‘spring-loaded’ so to speak, ready to rollback if we got uncomfortable with the movement of whatever storm it was,” Sieck said.

He said the goal isn’t only to protect the launch vehicle, but the people involved must be safe, too. Sieck said you don’t want to be heading back to the Vehicle Assembly Building with a storm coming and have something go wrong.

“You’re in the process of moving, totally exposed with the move crew, and something goes wrong with your transportation system and you’re stuck out on the crawler way with no protection,” he said.

Sieck said he is confident that the Artemis team will make the right decisions.

“Whatever their approach, you can be sure it’s the most conservative approach,” he said.

Artemis can stay at the pad, but safety criteria says that a gust of 74 knots or more is enough to force the team to roll the rocket back to the VAB.

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todaySeptember 23, 2022