The launch of SpaceX Crew-3 has been postponed again, and although it was only a few days, it is of course a shame to everyone who has completely finished all the preparations. Reason? This is one of the most common reasons for delaying a spacecraft launch: the weather.
SpaceX Crew-3 will now leave on November 10, but Crew-2’s plan to welcome the Crew-3 team into space won’t happen. Crew-2 will now go to Earth even earlier. The reason for making this switch has to do with the weather. Weather is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to launches.
The culprit might be a bit negative: It’s a good idea in and of itself to delay the launch if safety is at stake. It is precisely with the wind that the missile can go in the wrong direction and this can be disastrous for the crew, but also for the simply mission. If you pass just one degree on the ground, it can be a much greater distance once you reach space. So the weather is a very important factor.
Wind strength 5 is too much
Since a regular flight is often canceled only when it’s really windy, you have to delay a space launch much earlier. The wind speed should be no more than 31 kilometers per hour from the northeast (and 100 kilometers per hour from other wind directions). Cold weather is also dangerous because of the ice, so a temperature of less than 8 degrees also means no snow.
The Challenger explosion occurred in 1986 because the rocket’s O-rings got too cold, and ultimately not only did this result in a failed mission and a loss of many dollars: 7 crew members died). Even clouds have an effect at all, but so do thunderstorms, for example. If there is a twenty percent or greater chance of a thunderstorm occurring within 5 miles of the launch site, the launch will not proceed. A little sleepy, but Florida, where the NASA base is located, is the US state with the highest chance of thunderstorms. And now it’s all about the weather on Earth: you also have to deal with radiation and energy in space.
Although the weather usually plays tricks on launch, sometimes it’s completely different. Think, for example, of a minor medical issue with a passenger (this was even the reason the Crew-3 was delayed last time) or technical issues. The latter can be anything. Sometimes, a particular part is not completely finished or during testing turns out to be a malfunction. At SpaceX, refueling was not done properly in 2016, causing a chemical reaction that led to a fire. Fortunately, no one was killed in this: often it is not only about the crew members in danger: the people at the launch site must also stay safe.
Of course, we hope the Crew-3 launch remains safe and sound on Wednesday and makes it to the International Space Station well. The launch can be watched live on NASA’s YouTube channel.
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