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Storms spawned by Hurricane Ida’s slow churn near Florida forced SpaceX to scrub the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center early Saturday, setting the stage for a 24-hour turnaround.
Just under 10 minutes before the planned 3:37 a.m. launch, a SpaceX launch director called the scrub as conditions continued to worsen around pad 39A. Teams had already been keeping an eye on thick clouds and rain, but as the window drew closer, other concerns like approaching cumulus clouds and the potential for rocket-triggered lightning ultimately forced the scrub.
The mission, SpaceX’s 23rd International Space Station resupply under contract with NASA, is now targeting a 3:14 a.m. Sunday liftoff. An uncrewed Dragon capsule secured to the top of the rocket will carry thousands of pounds of cargo, supplies, and science experiments to a seven-person crew of astronauts and cosmonauts stationed aboard the ISS.
Weather for that attempt is 60% “go” and concerns over clouds, rain, and lightning remain the same.
“Although it will not directly impact east-central Florida, (Hurricane Ida) will usher in plentiful mid- and upper-level moisture over the Florida peninsula,” Space Force forecasters said in a pre-launch weather report. “For the backup window on Sunday morning, we remain in a similar pattern with continued onshore flow.”
“Ida will continue to develop in the Gulf, but it will likely be far enough west to allow moisture levels to decrease,” forecasters said. An updated report is expected sometime Saturday.
In an 11 p.m. Friday update, meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center said Ida will likely continue to strengthen as it approaches the Gulf Coast. Though it was measured as a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 80 mph at 2 a.m. Saturday, the NHC said a rapid strengthening is expected.
“All of the models show significant strengthening,” officials said. “The NHC intensity forecast remains near the high end of the model guidance and shows Ida becoming an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane (sustained winds of 130 mph) prior to reaching the coast.”
Ida is expected to make landfall just west of New Orleans Sunday afternoon or evening. If so, it will mark exactly 16 years since the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3, did the same on Aug. 29, 2005.
About 250 miles overhead, meanwhile, the ISS’ crew will expect Dragon to arrive around 11 a.m. Monday if Sunday’s launch goes according to plan.
For the latest, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.
Contact Emre Kelly at email@example.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly. Support space journalism by subscribing at floridatoday.com/specialoffer/.
Launch Sunday, Aug. 29
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: CRS-23 International Space Station resupply
- Launch Time: 3:14 a.m. ET
- Launch Window: Instantaneous
- Launch Pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center
- Trajectory: Northeast
- Landing: Drone ship
- Weather: 60% “go”
Visit floridatoday.com/space at 2 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 29, for real-time updates and video of the launch.