“Saturday and Sunday could prove to have very similar weather as Wednesday did,” said CNN meteorologist Haley Brink, citing the postponed launch. “We may be waiting for a decision on the game this weekend again.”
The next launch opportunity is Saturday at 3:22. ET, with a security window at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Scrubbing a launch due to weather is not uncommon.
“Scrubs are part of running spaceflight safely and successfully. During my last mission to the @Space_Station weather we caught up too!”
Experts are wary of lightning strikes
Lightning is one of the biggest concerns for this weekend’s planned launch.
Pat Hyland, a research assistant at the University of Oklahoma’s Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) who supports the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), spent several years researching this topic. During his undergraduate and graduate training, which was partially funded by a NASA EPSCoR scholarship, he focused on researching the Electric Field Factory (EFM) network at the Kennedy Space Center to determine the false alarm rate and assist with NASA’s Lightning Launch Commit Criteria.
“The motivation for the research was partly because studies showed that more than half of the lightning fall resulted from the first or one of the first few clouds-to-ground (CG) flashes in a storm and that a significant number of casualties resulted from returning to outdoor activities for soon, before the flash had actually stopped, “Hyland said. “We were looking for potential patterns in what happened to the electric field at the surface to hopefully provide guidance on decision situations in lightning strike decisions, such as what happens at the Kennedy Space Center with their launches.”
They also tried to look for patterns in the atmosphere during their rocket-fired flash experiments.
“This is another reason why, even in the absence of lightning strikes directly around the site, launches can sometimes be laundered because rockets artificially can trigger lightning strikes,” Hyland said.
For example, the flash in the area interrupts a flight, as does a cloud with a sufficiently large electric field to produce rocket-triggered lightning. This happens when a gigantic spark of electricity occurs when a large rocket flies through a sufficiently strong atmospheric electric field.
The electric field needed to induce rocket-fired lightning is much lower than that of natural lightning.
Other dangers can also scare the launch
Forecasts must also monitor the winds and the drainage of the starting plate.
If there is a sustained wind of 30 mph or more at 162 feet above the start plate, the mission will scrub.
It’s not just the weather at the location of the start plate. Weather Squadron must also monitor the weather equalization because if the Crew Dragon Capsule encounters a problem it must have a safe splash site.
A whole team of meteorologists are on hand from the 45th spacecraft and SpaceX to determine if the weather will scrub the launch. As on Wednesday, the decision can be made until the raise.
CNN’s Judson Jones contributed to this report.