CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX postponed the launch of a Dragon cargo ship filled with NASA supplies Wednesday (Dec. 4) due to high winds in the upper atmosphere, as well as at sea.
“Standing down today due to upper altitude winds and high winds at sea creating dynamic conditions around the Of Course I Still Love You droneship — next launch opportunity is tomorrow [Dec. 5] at 12:29 p.m. EST (1729 GMT),” SpaceX wrote in a Twitter update roughly an hour before today’s liftoff, which was scheduled for 12:51 p.m. EST (1751 GMT).
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket was slated to ferry a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station, packed to the brim with more than 5,700 lbs. (2,585 kilograms) of supplies and research experiments that will support a variety of science experiments over the course of the next two Expeditions — 61 and 62.
Standing down today due to upper altitude winds and high winds at sea creating dynamic conditions around the Of Course I Still Love You droneship – next launch opportunity is tomorrow at 12:29 p.m. EST, 17:29 UTCDecember 4, 2019
While the Dragon spacecraft featured in today’s launch try is a seasoned veteran, having flown twice before — once in 2014 and again in 2017 — the Falcon 9 is a brand new booster. SpaceX plans to recover the rocket stage with an drone ship landing for later reuse.
According to the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron, there was just a 10% chance that Mother Nature would not cooperate with today’s launch attempt. Mike McAleenan, an official with the Weather Squadron, explained the concerns in a prelaunch press conference yesterday, citing upper level winds as the only weather-related issue that could cause a scrub.
The winds proved to be too much for the Falcon and Dragon to fly through, as balloon measurements returned data that was higher than the previous day’s predictions. In an effort to preserve both vehicles and ensure mission success, SpaceX decided to stand down and try again on Thursday.
Thursday’s weather forecast shows a 20% percent of weather violation, but this time the winds are much calmer. If all goes according to plan, the Falcon will lift off at 12:29 p.m. EST (1729 GMT). The delay will push back Dragon’s weekend arrival at the space station by 24 hours. The spacecraft should now arrive Sunday, Dec. 8.