HOUSTON, United States – NASA on Saturday decided to scrub next Tuesday's launch of the Artemis I moon rocket due to Tropical Storm Ian.

Citing official weather forecasts, Jim Free, NASA's associate administrator for exploration systems development, tweeted that they are “standing down from our Sept 27 Artemis launch attempt."

Ian is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Monday, so NASA officials decided to scrap its third blastoff attempt due to safety.

"NASA is foregoing a launch opportunity Tuesday, Sept. 27, and preparing for rollback, while continuing to watch the weather forecast associated with Tropical Storm Ian," tweeted the US space agency.

NASA is now taking steps to return the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to the vehicle assembly building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"To protect our employees and the integrated stack, we will begin configuring the vehicle to roll back," said Free.

The two previous launch attempts were scrapped on Aug. 29 and Sept. 3 due to fueling and engine issues.

During the Sept. 3 cancellation, engineers had to address a relatively large leak of hydrogen that emerged during fueling, in addition to straightening out the chilling process for the engines which were also a concern during the Aug. 29 scratch.

The next backup date for a potential takeoff is Oct. 2. If that attempt is scrubbed, the next window for a possible launch is between Oct. 17 and Oct. 31.

The Artemis I mission is the first of three space flights in NASA's space exploration project.

In a 42-day uncrewed mission, Artemis I is expected to explore the integration of NASA’s deep space exploration systems involving the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket. The massive 322-foot (98-meter) rocket is the most powerful ever built by NASA and is the only one built to send a payload of over 59,525 pounds (27,000 kilograms) into space.

Artemis II and Artemis III will aim to return humans to the moon with the eventual goal of carrying out missions to Mars. (Anadolu)