4:20 p.m. ET Wednesday: SpaceX scrubbed the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft just under 17 minutes before launch Wednesday. Although weather conditions at the launch site improved — thunderstorms rolled in earlier in the day and a tornado warning was issued for Kennedy Space Center — they didn’t improve fast enough. If Dragon could have launched 10 minutes later, it would have been good to go again.
Aware of the undergrowth, Dragon’s commander Doug Hurley said from the spacecraft, “It was a good effort by the teams, and we understand. Everyone is probably a little confused. It’s just part of the deal.”
There were no technical issues with Dragon or the missile. Now, SpaceX will work to recycle the systems for another launch attempt on Saturday at 15:22 ET (19:22 UTC). The reason for skipping the next two days is an unfavorable phase angle for Dragon’s approach to the International Space Station. Some better weather is forecast for Saturday, but it’s not a slam-dunk. There is a backup option on Sunday.
Original post: With humans on the brink of rising back into orbit from the United States, restrictions around launch weather are being tightened. That’s why we’re closely monitoring conditions today ahead of a historic Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft launch at 4:33 p.m. ET (8:33 p.m. UTC).
This will be the first launch of humans into orbit from the United States since the space shuttle retired in 2011, and people who remember that program will remember a lot of scrubs. For today’s mission, we need to monitor the weather, both at the launch site before the launch, and range down in case of possible emergencies with the rocket during the countdown or after it has been launched.
Launch site again
For Kennedy Space Center and SpaceX’s Launch Complex 39A, there are 12 different criteria near the path that must be met before a launch can occur. These include sustained winds of 30 mph or less, no anvil thunderstorms within 10 nautical miles, and various rules over clouds.
When the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida gives its official forecast for a launch, it bases its percentage solely on the conditions for a particular rocket and the weather at the launch site. This morning’s updated forecast for today’s launch attempt of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is fair, with a 50 percent chance of weather restrictions being violated at the time of launch.
However, this forecast does not take into account several other important considerations, most notably the weather before aborting the climb. This is a really big concern today with Tropical Storm Bertha forming off the coast of South Carolina and unstable weather in Dragon’s path.
A complicated analysis
When the Falcon 9 rocket is launched, there is a small chance of a problem with the rocket. That’s why the Crew Dragon spacecraft has a launch escape system, which SpaceX successfully tested in January. In an emergency, Dragon’s SuperDraco thrusters fire immediately to pull the spacecraft away from the rocket.
At this point, the capsule rises to a top and then begins to fall back to Earth. Because it takes just over eight minutes for the rocket’s first and second stages to reach orbit — and an emergency is theoretically possible anywhere — it’s possible for Dragon to fly across the Atlantic to anywhere between Florida and Ireland. to come down.
Weather is important for a breakout scenario for several reasons. One is rainfall, as too much rainfall would reduce the ability of Dragon’s four main parachutes to bring down the spacecraft. In addition, recovery operations require relatively calm sea states to bring the spacecraft safely onto SpaceXs GO finder recovery ship.
This week, NASA officials said they will monitor about 50 locations along Dragon’s track for weather conditions. However, some will outweigh others. SpaceX has developed a model that likely resembles many locations off the US East Coast. Some points are weighted significantly higher in the final analysis, such as a truncation due to a staging error.
Anyone who has attended the space shuttle program will remember many scrubs due to the inclement weather. The space shuttle didn’t have an escape system for launch, but more than half of the missions got scrubbed at least once because of the weather. This is because the shuttle not only had its own weather rules, but also had “Transoceanic Abort Landing” locations, in the Azores, Spain and France. A handful of these locations had to have clear weather for a launch to go through.
So when it comes to human launches in the future, the weather will be an important factor for NASA and SpaceX in the future.