ORLANDO, Fla. – As NASA and SpaceX prepare to launch four astronauts on the first Dragon spacecraft operational mission to the International Space Station, the space agency released the weather criteria that would prevent the Crew-1 mission from launching.
The mission will send three American astronauts and one Japanese space explorer to the ISS, marking the second human spaceflight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center since the last space shuttle flight in 2011. This comes after the historic first crewed launch of the Dragon spacecraft earlier this year with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. SpaceX became the first private company to fly astronauts to orbit.
[REPLAY: Astronauts on their way to the ISS]
Before launch, the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron will be closely monitoring weather conditions that could prevent the launch, or in the event of an emergency launch abort, the recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft from the Atlantic Ocean anywhere between the U.S. and south of Ireland.
Weather officers will be monitoring both launch and landing conditions throughout the countdown for certain criteria that would cause the launch to be scrubbed for the safety of the astronauts.
Below are 14 weather conditions that would prevent the launch from happening.
- Do not launch if the sustained wind at the 162-foot level of the launch pad exceeds 30 mph.
- Do not launch through upper-level conditions containing wind shear that could lead to control problems for the launch vehicle.
- Do not launch for 30 minutes after lightning is observed within 10 nautical miles of the launch pad or the flight path unless specified conditions can be met.
- Do not launch within 10 nautical miles of an attached thunderstorm anvil cloud, unless temperature and time-associated distance criteria can be met.
- Do not launch within 10 nautical miles of a detached thunderstorm anvil cloud.
- Do not launch within 3 nautical miles of a thunderstorm debris cloud, unless specific time associated distance criteria can be met.
- Do not launch within 5 nautical miles of disturbed weather clouds that extend into freezing temperatures and contain moderate or greater precipitation, 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 launch through a cloud layer greater than 4,500 feet thick that extends into freezing temperatures, unless other specific criteria can be met.
- Do not launch within 10 nautical miles of cumulus clouds with tops that extend into freezing temperatures, unless specific height-associated distance criteria can be met.
- Do not launch within 10 nautical miles of the edge of a thunderstorm that is producing lightning within 30 minutes after the last lightning is observed.
- Do not launch through cumulus clouds formed as the result of or directly attached to a smoke plume, unless time-associated criteria can be met.
- Do not launch if downrange weather indicates a violation of limits at splashdown in case of Dragon launch escape.
- Do not launch if downrange weather shows a high probability of violating limits at splashdown in case of Dragon launch escape. Downrange weather is monitored at more than 50 locations along the ascent track along the North American eastern seaboard and across the North Atlantic. The probability of violation is calculated for each location including limit conditions for wind, waves, lightning, and precipitation.