NASA's Artemis 1 vehicle was positioned on Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center when it was smacked by maelstrom Nicole.
Nicole hit NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the attached Orion capsule on November 10, and as it rolled in from the coast, it was deemed a Category 1 hurricane but later changed to a weakened tropical storm as it moved more inland. NASA officials have reported that the Artemis 1 rocket and Orion capsule have experienced high-speed winds and rain but have made it through the several hours of panic with minimal damage.
According to reports, sensors located at the Launch Pad 39B indicate that wind speed peaked at around 82 mph while at an altitude of 60 feet, which is actually within the rocket's designed capabilities. According to a statement from NASA on November 8, the SLS rocket is designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 85 mph at 60 feet - talk about a close call.
Artemis 1 was originally meant to launch back in September, but the launch was unfortunately delayed after a fuel leak and then later delayed again by Hurricane Ian. Officials were forced to roll the SLS rocket and Orion capsule back into the Vehicle Assembly Building to shelter it from Hurricane Ian. NASA locked in a new launch date and moved the SLS rocket back out onto launch pad 39B on November 4 but was forced to postpone the launch once again due to weather - this time Nicole. NASA pushed the launch date back two days, moving it from November 14 to November 16.
However, this time around, officials chose to leave the SLS rocket on the pad to weather the storm. Jim Free, associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington, explained via Twitter that NASA engineers are currently investigating how much damage the storm caused the SLS rocket via cameras attached to the launch pad. So far, camera inspections show very minor damage to the rocket, with only a few items, such as tears in weather coverings and loose caulk showing damage.