Why a postponement is postponed (as happened to SpaceX)


Due to bad weather, the launch of the Space X Crew Dragon was postponed to next Saturday at 21.22 Italian time. Here are the criteria that led to the cancellation of yesterday’s event

(photo: NASA TV)

Last night was supposed to be an epochal event, especially for the space history of the United States. Yet, due to bad weather, the launch of the space taxi Crew Dragon of SpaceX it was canceled and postponed to May 30th. To decide to stop the countdown, a few minutes from the start, it was the red lights that indicated how weather conditions were unfavorable and unsuitable for safe take-off of the spacecraft.

As we told you, the launch of the Crew Dragon it was an event nine years awaited by the United States. A launch that should have been truly special, both because it would have inaugurated the era of private manned flights, and because it would have marked the end of the Russian monopoly in the transport of astronauts (with the Soyuz) to the International space station (ISS). But only a few minutes from the start, scheduled for 22:33 (Italian time), it was decided to postpone the launch. The red lights relating to weather conditions, which must be respected for the launch, did not allow the official go – ahead for the take – off of the Crew Dragon. They indicated, in fact, values ​​beyond the limit of electric fields in the atmosphere, storm cloud formations, strong wind, rain and lightning danger on the launch area.

The experts, in fact, had monitored a tropical storm called the whole day yesterday Bertha, off the coast of South Carolina, assuming a potential thunderstorm and bad weather also in the area of Kennedy Space Center. “There was concern that if we had proceeded with the launch, we could have actually triggered a lightning strike due to theexcessive electricity atmosphere “ NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine reported. “We made the right decision.”

The weather conditions to proceed with a safe take-off, they must be perfect, not only on the launch pad, but also in other areas that stretch for kilometers along the east coast of the United States and the Atlantic Ocean. Weather conditions, those of yesterday, too dangerous to take off the spacecraft. The decision to proceed with the launch or not is governed by a very detailed set of rules acquired over years of experience: for example, as the New York Times, when winds exceed a certain threshold or clouds hold back one electric charge which could discharge like lightning, the launch is canceled because the risk of a failure of the spacecraft or the danger to which thecrew it is too high.

According to Nasa to postpone a flight to Space it is necessary to follow specific criteria: if, for example, the wind above the launch platform exceeds 30 miles per hour. You need to wait 30 minutes after observing a lighting bolt about 20 kilometers from the launch pad or flight path. And again: the launch must be postponed if they are observed within 20 kilometers of the ramp storm clouds and wait 15 minutes if at about 10 kilometers from the ramp specific instruments (field mills) record values ​​above the threshold electric fields the atmosphere. For these meteorological criteria, therefore, the launch of the Crew Dragon it was postponed 21.22 (Italian time) on Saturday 30 May.

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