For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Continuing a string of bad luck the past few days harkening back to the endless repetitive time-loop dream ala ‘Groundhog Day’ the trio of back to back Space Coast rocket launches that had planned to light up the Central Florida skies reset to start just past midnight Monday morning from America’s two premier rocket makers United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX was again delayed today – starting with the first two today when the first 2 launches were scrubbed and postponed barely 13 hours apart!
The oft weather delayed SpaceX Starlink mission was delayed just seconds before planned liftoff of the fully fueled Falcon 9 rocket at 10:22 a.m. ET Monday because the range was red for weather.
“Standing down from launch of Starlink due to weather; will announce a new target launch date once confirmed,” SpaceX tweeted.
Standing down from launch of Starlink due to weather; will announce a new target launch date once confirmed
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 28, 2020
We observed liquid oxygen LOX venting from the 2nd stage in the final minutes of the countdown.
Late Monday evening ULA also announced a weather delay for the oft delayed ULA Delta IV Heavy launch of a top secret spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) that was planned for midnight 12:02 a.m. Tuesday Sept. 29.
As a result the NRO spysat launch is now targeted for just before midnight Tuesday, Sept. 29.
“The launch of the United Launch Alliance #DeltaIVHeavy #NROL44 mission has been scrubbed due to weather. Launch is now scheduled for 11:58 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 29,” ULA tweeted.
The launch of the United Launch Alliance #DeltaIVHeavy #NROL44 mission has been scrubbed due to weather. Launch is now scheduled for 11:58 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 29.https://t.co/GKgbdk3wMm
— ULA (@ulalaunch) September 28, 2020
Torrential rains, lightning and thunderstorms inundated Central Florida periodically all day Monday as the storm fronts move in.
In fact the gantry protecting the Delta IV Heavy rocket at pad 37 could not be rolled away because of nearby lightning that forced them to abandon their launch preparation efforts, said ULA and CEO Tory Bruno.
If you are just tuning in, the #DeltaIVHeavy launch pad at Cape Canaveral remains under a Phase 2 lightning warning. That caused the pad crew to leave the site for shelter. We are awaiting improvement in the weather in order for the team to resume its work for a launch attempt. pic.twitter.com/cbrJVv6mMJ
— ULA (@ulalaunch) September 28, 2020
To recap, the team was preparing to retract the Mobile Service Tower away from #DeltaIVHeavy. However, storms pushing toward Space Launch Complex-37 caused meteorologists to declare a Phase 2 lightning warning that resulted in the crew clearing the pad as a safety precaution.
— ULA (@ulalaunch) September 28, 2020
Lightning strike near the pad. Looking at the launch window. #NROL44
— Tory Bruno (@torybruno) September 28, 2020
The mission has been reset to lift off nearly 24 hours later but still on Tuesday, Sept. 29 just before midnight since the launch time moves 4 minutes earlier per day.
Liftoff of the 23-story tall triple stick United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket on the NROL-44 intelligence gathering mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) could be re-slated for about 11:58 p.m. EDT (0358 GMT) Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020 from seaside Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida – following the earlier scrubs for the hot fire abort and faulty ground launch pneumatic systems and the swing arm problem as well as weather.
The launch period runs until about 1:30 a.m. EDT (0530 GMT).
You can watch the Delta IV Heavy rocket launch live on a ULA webcast beginning about 20 minutes before liftoff at 11:40 p.m. ET, available at :
www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance
U:A updates here: https://www.ulalaunch.com/missions/next-launch/delta-iv-heavy-nrol-44
The weather odds for the midnight liftoff are not good at only 40% GO for conditions at launch time.
“Today’s forecast shows a 40 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 11:58 p.m. EDT,” tweeted ULA.
Today’s forecast shows a 40 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 11:58 p.m. EDT.
— ULA (@ulalaunch) September 29, 2020
The primary concerns are the Thick Cloud Layer Rule, the Anvil Cloud Rule and the Cumulous Cloud Rule.
As a result what was the third launch of the bunch of a GPS navigation satellite for the U.S. Space Force was also delayed by 24 hours to Wednesday evening – but now moves up to the number 2 position – after the ULA Delta IV Heavy.
“Now targeting Wednesday, September 30 for Falcon 9’s launch of GPS III Space Vehicle 04 for improved launch and recovery weather,” SpaceX tweeted.
Now targeting Wednesday, September 30 for Falcon 9’s launch of GPS III Space Vehicle 04 for improved launch and recovery weather
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 29, 2020
Unfortunately the weather odds are also not good for GPSIII SV04 at only 40% GO at this time
Both the NROL 44 and GPS satellite launches are for the US military
GPS serves a broad array of both civilian and military functions.
Enjoy our Space UpClose gallery of images from the team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright.
Starlink still awaits a new day on the range but appears to be targeting Oct. 1 at this earliest- pending the outcome of the first two launches.
SpaceX is potentially slated to launch the next Starlink comsat mission on a recycled Falcon 9 at 9:17 a.m. EDT Thursday morning, Oct. 1 from Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Stay tuned for further possible scrubs especially due to weather and schedule changes
Thus SpaceX will launch the fourth in a series of next generation GPS satellites on a newly manufactured Falcon 9 on Wednesday evening Sept. 29 at 9:51 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, FL.
The launch window for the GPSIII SV04 mission for the U.S. Space Force extends until 10:10 p.m.
“GPS III SV04 will join the current 31-satellite operational constellation to continue to provide the gold standard in positioning, navigation, and timing services for more than four billion users worldwide,” says the U.S. Space and Missile Command.
SpaceX will attempt to recover both Falcon 9 boosters on their 2 droneships
Watch my commentary at WFTV Channel 9 ABC TV News Orland in this Sept. 25/26 report about 3 upcoming Space Coast launches in 3 days by ULA and SpaceX
Watch my live interview discussion of current space missions and launches on Sept. 18 edition of ‘Stay Curious’ daily space show presented by the American Space Museum, Titusville, FL.
Space Journalist Dr. Ken Kremer updates "Stay Curious" on space news
Our 25th "Stay Curious" week ends with space journalist Dr. Ken Kremer joining MarQ & Marty to update you on the lastest news from the Space Coast…all to bridge the space between us.
Posted by American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame on Friday, September 18, 2020
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Starlink, Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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