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November 13, 20203 min read

What’s the Forecast for This Weekend’s SpaceX Launch?

Back in May, the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket launch NASA astronauts into space aboard a private spacecraft, and the first time astronauts were launched in the US in nearly ten years.

However, the launch was initially canceled because of the weather, including the risk of lightning. It was quickly rescheduled and the historic launch went off without a hitch on Saturday, May 30.

Now, another SpaceX launch is scheduled for this Saturday at 7:49 pm EST. This time, four astronauts are heading to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket, kicking off the regular process of bringing astronauts to and from the ISS aboard a privately built rocket.

But the question remains: what’s the forecast for the SpaceX launch?

Here’s the likelihood of inclement weather scrubbing this weekend’s launch at Cape Canaveral.

Weather Parameters Needed for NASA Rocket Launch

For every rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, the weather has to be within specific criteria in order for the launch to go off safely. According to NASA, the specific launch criteria for the Falcon 9 are:

  • Sustained wind at the 162 feet level of the launch pad in excess of 35 mph
  • Launch through a cloud layer greater than 4,500 feet thick that extends into freezing temperatures
  • Launch within 19 kilometers of cumulus clouds with tops that extend into freezing temperatures
  • Within 19 kilometers of the edge of a thunderstorm that is producing lightning within 30 minutes after the last lightning is observed
  • Within 19 kilometers of an attached thunderstorm anvil cloud
  • Within 9.3 kilometers of disturbed weather clouds that extend into freezing temperatures and contain moderate or greater precipitation
  • Within 5.6 kilometers of a thunderstorm debris cloud
  • Through cumulus clouds formed as the result of or directly attached to a smoke plume

In the days leading up to a planned launch, NASA scientists are looking carefully at the forecast to ensure the weather will not exceed these limits for a safe and successful launch.

Launch Forecast for Saturday, November 14, 2020

So what is the forecast for tomorrow’s launch? The forecast for Saturday evening looks pretty good along the Space Coast of Florida. Temperatures will be in the mid-70s with partly cloudy skies.

An East/Northeast wind around 10-15 mph is expected with some gusts near 20 mph possible. These winds would be well within the necessary limits needed for launch for the Falcon 9 Crew Dragon.

The weather looks dry with a very low probability (less than a 10% chance) for a rain shower, though the launch forecasters will have to watch for possible cloud decks in the area that could violate the criteria needed for launch. At this time, the best model projections show the primary cloud decks remaining to the north, with enough clearing in the immediate launch area surrounding Kennedy Space Center that the launch should be able to proceed as planned at 7:49pm ET.

Keep an eye on the weather tomorrow, and tune in with us to (hopefully) see the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch.

 

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