SpaceX delayed its first manned space launch, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon local time, because of bad weather at the Florida launch site. Two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, on board the SpaceX manned Dragon spacecraft, will attempt to lift off again on Saturday, May 30 ,0300 BST(3:22 a.m. est on May 31).
Author . . . Chen
Produced . . . NetEase Technology “Know No” column group
“It’s unlikely to do that,” someone said in a pre-launch mission control audio.
SpaceX is most concerned about the live clouds near Cape Canaveral, Florida. A charged cloud is particularly dangerous for rocket launches. If the rocket flies close enough to the charged cloud, lightning may strike the rocket, causing damage and endangering the mission. Mission controllers predict that the weather will clear up within 10 minutes of launch. However, at the scheduled launch time, the weather is not very good.
It is reported that the scene conditions violated three weather rules, resulting in the launch was blocked. These include natural lightning and the roof of the thunderstorm cloud, which generates electric fields and triggers lightning when in contact with rocket plumes.
Although the decision to cancel the launch showed signs of clear weather, the day’s launch could not be resumed due to the limited time limiting the arrival of the International Space Station.
Originally published as Predictions
Since Tuesday, the probability of a planned launch being cancelled due to thunderstorms has increased from 40 percent to 60 percent. Earlier Wednesday afternoon, a report obtained by a NASA television host showed that the air and sea space around the launch site was equipped for launch. However, the weather conditions necessary for launching in relation to “lightning energy dissipation” are affected.
Between 3.30pm and 3.50pm, the weather conditions have been “in a favourable direction.” But the situation turned sharply just after 4 p.m., according to NASA television.
The final cancellation decision was made at 4:13 p.m., about 20 minutes from the scheduled launch time.
Weather radar showed a series of showers and thunderstorms began to leave the west off the space coast, and a special marine warning for heavy rain and gusty winds in coastal waters was not lifted until 3.30pm. North of Brevard County, about 20 miles north of Cape Canaveral, a tornado warning was issued until 2:15 p.m.
Storms that extend along the storm’s trajectory hover along the space coast and the west. But weather radar sits a wide gap in precipitation coverage, which could provide a window for the 4:33 p.m. launch. However, the presence or proximity of high-volume or thunderstorm clouds can cause problems.
The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, which supports the Kennedy Space Center mission, initially determined that the probability of weather affecting Wednesday’s launch was 50 percent. Just after 2 p.m. on Wednesday, NASA TELEVISION announced that the odds had increased to 60 percent.
Jason Fontenot, the weather squadron and flight commander for the Space Weather Operations, said Tuesday that possible precipitation in Wednesday’s launch area was his biggest concern, and that “inland storms could cause cancellations” if they were close enough.
If cloud rain, storms, and precipitation violate any of the more than a dozen weather rules, the launch will be canceled. Most of the rules relate to the presence of thunderstorms or thunderstorm clouds within 10 nautical miles of the launch site and flight path. These rules are designed to protect in-flight rockets from lightning strikes.
SpaceX plans to launch at the backup launch window at 3:22 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday. According to the Weather Squadron, weather forecasts suggest a slight improvement in weather over the weekend, with the probability of weather disrupting the launch dropping to 40 percent.
In the past, examples of rocket launches in stormy conditions have caused problems. During the Apollo 12 mission launch, the Saturn 5 rocket was struck twice by lightning, causing damage to some non-essential components. Despite this, the astronauts completed the mission to the moon.
In 1987, the unmanned Atlas/HalfMan-67 rocket was reportedly hit by lightning during a rainy launch, causing it to “lose control” when it was launched. Security officials were forced to move and destroy the rockets to ensure that fragments of the rockets did not fall in densely populated areas.
Atmospheric scientists have learned that rockets produce a conductive plume. Thus lightning can be triggered when it passes through a pre-existing electric field.
“We have to make sure that we stay away from lightning or naturally occurring lightning triggered by different types of clouds,” Fonteno said. “
He said his forecasting team could use “the world’s densest set of weather sensors” to monitor weather conditions. These include wind sensors, lightning detection systems, ground-based electric field systems and weather radars.
In addition to the weather at Cape Canaveral, weather forecasters are closely monitoring the coast in case the spacecraft carrying two astronauts is forced to cancel its launch due to an emergency and end up in the ocean.
As a result of Tropical Storm Bertha, some waves along the southeastern coast reached up to 2 meters, with gusts of up to 48 kilometers per hour. However, the storm will move inland and the maximum waves will recede in front of the launch window later in the afternoon. Waves further north and east along the flight path are expected to be close to normal, mostly within 1.5 metres, although waves above 2 metres are likely to occur in the north and central North Atlantic.