ORLANDO, Florida. – As NASA and SpaceX prepare to launch four astronauts on the first operational mission of the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, the space agency released the meteorological criteria that would have prevented the launch of the Crew-1 mission.
The mission will send three American astronauts and a Japanese space explorer to the ISS, marking the second human space flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center since the last space shuttle flight in 2011. This comes after the historic first manned launch of the Dragon spacecraft to the start this year with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. SpaceX became the first private company to fly astronauts into orbit.
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Prior to launch, the US Space Force 45th Weather Squadron will closely monitor weather conditions that may impede launch, or in the event of an emergency launch disruption, recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft from the Atlantic Ocean anywhere between the U.S. south of Ireland.
Meteorological officers will monitor both launch and landing conditions during the countdown for certain criteria that would cause the launch to be canceled for the safety of astronauts.
Below are 14 weather conditions that would prevent launch.
- Do not take off if the sustained wind at the 162-foot level of the launch pad exceeds 30 mph.
- Do not launch in higher level conditions containing wind shear which could cause control problems for the launch vehicle.
- Do not launch for 30 minutes after observing a lightning strike within 10 nautical miles of the launch pad or flight path unless specified conditions can be met.
- Do not launch within 10 nautical miles of an attacked storm anvil cloud, unless the temperature and distance criteria associated with weather can be met.
- Do not launch within 10 nautical miles of a detached storm cloud of anvil.
- Do not launch within 3 nautical miles of a storm debris cloud unless the distance criteria associated with the specific weather can be met.
- Do not launch within 5 nautical miles of disturbed weather clouds that extend in freezing temperatures and contain moderate or greater rainfall, unless specific time-associated distance criteria can be met.
- Do not launch for 15 minutes if field mill instrument readings within five nautical miles of the launch pad exceed +/- 1,500 volts per meter, or +/- 1,000 volts per meter if specified criteria can be met.
- Do not cast through a cloud layer greater than 4,500 feet thick that extends in freezing temperatures, unless other specific criteria can be met.
- Do not launch within 10 nautical miles of cumulus clouds with peaks extending in freezing temperatures, unless specific distance criteria associated with height can be met.
- Do not take off within 10 nautical miles of the edge of a storm that is producing lightning within 30 minutes of observing the last lightning strike.
- Do not launch through cumulus clouds formed as a result of or directly attached to a smoke plume, unless the criteria associated with the weather can be met.
- Do not cast if the downrange time indicates a splashdown limit violation in the event of an escape from the Dragon cast.
- Do not cast if the downrange time shows a high probability of violating the splashdown limits in the event of an escape from the Dragon cast. Downstream time is tracked at more than 50 locations along the ascent route along the east coast of North America and across the North Atlantic. The probability of breach is calculated for each location, including boundary conditions for wind, wave, lightning and precipitation.
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