back to article Turns out Elon can't control the weather – what a scrub: Rain, clouds delay historic manned SpaceX-NASA launch

NASA's attempt to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station aboard an American-made rocket from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade was aborted today due to bad weather. Grey clouds loomed overhead as Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley strapped into their seats in their SpaceX’s Dragon crew …

  1. et tu, brute?
    Mushroom

    Well, at least it didn't go like the icon >>>>

    And watching the 4.5 hours of webcast was mostly interesting :)

    1. IneptAdept

      Gutted

      As excited as I was to see the launch, even had my daughter's stay up to watch it

      I am glad they didn't push ahead with launch and endanger not only the lives of the astronauts but also possible launches going forward

      It's almost as if SpaceX aren't doing a boeing

    2. Mike 125

      I approve.

      -Arm Launch Escape System

      -Load Propellant

      -Scrub Scrub Scrub

      -Offload Propellant

      -Disarm Launch Escape System

      That's a good sequence. I like that sequence.

      It was oddly gripping, partly because it's been a while, and partly because it's such a relief from the relentless idiocy of politics. At last: real people, doing a proper job, and doing it well. (You too NHS)

      Roll on Saturday.

    3. John Robson Silver badge

      A scrub is cheaper than a boom...

      - Courtesy of Tim Dodd, The Everyday Astronaut.

      1. richardcox13

        Definitely the stream to watch, over the rather more scripted official streams.

  2. Mike Richards

    Lightning

    'However, a final weather check determined the strength of the electric field in the atmosphere was too high'

    So no one got the opportunity to set 'SCE to Aux'?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_12#Launch_and_transfer

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Lightning

      I just can't see an equivalent today happening with those touchscreens. They look very 'no user serviceable parts inside'.

      1. Mike Richards

        Re: Lightning

        I fear you're right. Instead you have to call the tech support number written on the underside of the capsule.

  3. DanceMan

    I hope they're not using Autopilot.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Chance of hitting a road barrier is rather low

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        But I hope the docking computer isn't like Elite's.

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Given how long it takes to autodock in real space flight, I hope so too. I don't think anyone could survive four-plus hours of Blue Danube on repeat with their sanity intact.

      2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

        > Chance of hitting a road barrier is rather low

        Yes, but the lane markers are rather ambiguous.

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Also, TS Bertha was in the way

    Tropical Storm Bertha formed the day before, and was right in the way.

    It was raining buckets here. I don't see how they got as high as 60% chance.

    Rocket exhaust is conductive, so it's a good path to ground which induces lightning, as Apollo 12 found out.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Also, TS Bertha was in the way

      "I don't see how they got as high as 60% chance."

      They didn't:

      "a 60 per cent chance the launch would have to be postponed"

      1. Javc

        Re: Also, TS Bertha was in the way

        "a 60 per cent chance the launch would have to be postponed"

        The article was wrong. Weather was 60% go prior to launch.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Also, TS Bertha was in the way

      TS Bertha was further north at the time but it's Florida, in the tropics electrical storms are common when the tropical warm air meets cooler air from the north and convection gets going. In the past there have been many launch cancellations but generally the meteorologists have predicted the weather and the date or time has just been shifted a little.

    3. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Also, TS Bertha was in the way

      Rockets are out of the weather inside a couple of minutes...

      The rest of the range weather restriction is all to do with recovery in the event of an in flight abort.

  5. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Fingers crossed for Saturday

    I'm not a fan of Musk, but I really hope this launch is successful. Not just because of the human cost if it isn't, but also the potential political/financial cost.

    Also was pondering the new space suits. To me, even though I kind of understand they work, they look wrong. Downside to growing up in the olden days when space suits (even Hollywood versions) looked more substantial. I'm sure the crew appreciate the benefits of FEA and modern materials though.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: not a fan of Musk

      Like the cars, love the rockets but the man can easily compete with POTUS for the vile tweet of the month award.

      1. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: not a fan of Musk

        A trade we should take any day of the week.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: not a fan of Musk

          People prefer colonel von Braun?

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: not a fan of Musk

        Like the cars, love the rockets but the man can easily compete with POTUS for the vile tweet of the month award.

        Yup. And now X Æ A-Xii. Poor kid. But welcome "Ex Ash A Twelve" or "Ex Aye Eye" or "Ten Ash/Aye Twelve". Celebs, bless them. Apparently the Æ is elvish for "AI", but presumably only for Icelandic elves. Otherwise calling your kid an AI seems a bit harsh for a hopefully free-thinking meatbot. Ash Musk, initials AM would seem appropriate for an individual entity though.

        But I digress. The cars & rockets are facing competition, and eventually TSLA will face a reality check, which a launch failure won't help. The part of Musk I like is he has been pushing to lift humanity out of the gravity well. If Musk, Bezos and Branson pooled their resources, a Mars base would be even closer to reality.. give or take a monumental clash of egos.

        1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: not a fan of Musk

          > If Musk, Bezos and Branson pooled their resources...

          Better they compete than combine. We need diversity and competition in the means to access space.

    2. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

      Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

      The old spacesuits went stiff as a board when pressurised in a vacuum, which was one reason early spacewalks were so exhausting. I'm sure Gene Cernan and Alexei Leonov would have appreciated one of the modern ones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

        These spacesuits can't be used outside of a vessel. It's not possible to spacewalk in them as they don't have enough protection.

        1. Sanctimonious Prick
          Happy

          Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

          AC

          "they don't have enough protection."

          Umm... but enough in the event of depressurisation.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

            Thermal, and impact protection are required for an EVA rated suit.

            These only need to hold pressure for long enough to safely abort, the capsule can provide gas exchange, thermal regulation and impact protection.

    3. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

      These aren't space suits, they're flight suits. They provide emergency protection in the case of decompression.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

        These aren't space suits, they're flight suits. They provide emergency protection in the case of decompression.

        Semantics. Or marketing. I guess they're space flight suits to differentiate between EVA suits and regular flight suits (non-high altitude). Still neat, and AFAIK could be used for emergency EVA. Think one of the vids I saw when they launched (product, not physics) said they could be used for a short hop if the capsule has parking (docking) problems.

        But such are the joys of rocket science and human factors. Being able to lose mass is helpful, and apparently these suits are more comfortable.. Which must be nice given the time the astronauts spend in them at 1G waiting for launch, higher G during launch, then micro-G on approach to ISS. I wonder if the computing inside the capsule lets them play Kerbal during that trip?

        1. druck Silver badge

          Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

          i wouldn't call micrometeorite protection required for EVA, semantics or marketing.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

            i wouldn't call micrometeorite protection required for EVA, semantics or marketing.

            Err.. nor would I, but I would call a suit designed to be worn in space a...?

            But being bored, I figured I'd have a quick look for the number of times a space suit had been hit by a micrometeorite*. In which I learned 2 things. One, the possible answer, the other, ad slinging algorithms. Top search result was for a Marks & Spencer Velvet suit set. Not entirely convinced that would meet specs for EVA activity, or pretty much any activity.

            *Favorite example of space hazards was when a shuttle got a small crater in it's windshield. On analysis, was apparently due to colliding with a fragment of frozen urine.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Fingers crossed for Saturday

      "Also was pondering the new space suits."

      Me too. They look like a snow jacket and trousers with a pair of wellies. Far less bulky, but somehow "wrong". I read that the concept for the design was a Hollywood movie designer.

  6. Sanctimonious Prick
    Paris Hilton

    Phew!

    I slept in and missed the whole thing, or not.

  7. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

    "Flying at a different time may have prevented the crew capsule from reaching orbit"

    ...from reaching the correct orbit, Shirley.

    1. Oliver Mayes

      Orbit is a very tricky thing. If you dont launch at the right time, and with the right speed you don't go into orbit, you just go up, around, and back down. If you're lucky.

      1. AIBailey Silver badge

        You could launch at any time and achieve Earth orbit.

        The challenge here is to launch when the ISS is at the right point in the sky, otherwise you waste too much fuel chasing down its orbit.

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

          It's not just a question of the correct orbit and position of the ISS. I watched the webcast and they spoke at length about the energy calculations and how they are based on the liquid oxygen and other propellants being in a specific temperature range. If they hold too long, even minutes, the propellants warm up and they don't get the performance they calculated.

        2. Robert Grant Silver badge

          You have to launch when the Earth exists to achieve orbit. On an intergalactic scale that could be considered tricky timing.

    2. Jonathon Desmond

      Actually I am pretty sure they would have reached the correct orbit.

      They'd just be in the wrong orbital position in that orbit.....

  8. IareFlash

    Ginger Baboon getting dangerously in on the picture

    Was it just me or was it inordinately foolhardy of SpaceX/NASA to allow the big OrangeOneKanobhead fly over the site in Airforce1.

    I thought airspace around rocket launches, especially one as prestigious as this one was closed for safety reasons?

    "I'm da Pres and I wanna fly over the frickin launch!"

    Possibly a chance to pass the superb achievement as one of his own perhaps.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Ginger Baboon getting dangerously in on the picture

      Maybe they hoped the lightening would be attracted to the hydrochloroquine-quoffing braggard?

    2. Wenlocke

      Re: Ginger Baboon getting dangerously in on the picture

      I was honestly half-expecting him to go "how dare you, launch anyway, that's an order."

      and/or rant about the agency on twitter.

  9. Fred Dibnah Silver badge
    Trollface

    The Right Stuff

    What a bunch of snowflakes, letting a little thunderstorm put them off. 50 years ago they just got on with it.

    https://www.history.nasa.gov/afj/ap12fj/a12-lightningstrike.html

    1. My-Handle

      Re: The Right Stuff

      Well, at least you used the troll icon

    2. ChrisC

      Re: The Right Stuff

      "50 years ago they just got on with it"

      And only *just* got away with it...

      Given that one of the outcomes of Apollo 12 was a change in launch procedures to avoid launching into such weather conditions on future missions, criticising the current generation of steely eyed missilemen and women as snowflakes is so far from the mark it's not even funny if you were trying to just make a joke out of it, let alone if you were being even remotely serious.

      Scrubbing a launch is disappointing, but I'll take that over an inflight abort (or worse) every single time. "SCE to Aux" is a memorable (for the right reasons) phrase from the lexicon of NASA launches, but let's never ever forget the equally memorable (for all the wrong reasons) "Roger, go at throttle up"...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: The Right Stuff

        "And only *just* got away with it..."

        On the other hand, aircraft are struck by lightning most days and survive without damage almost all of the time. It's not rocket science! :-)))

        Note: Icon to indicate that I may not be being entirely serious.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: The Right Stuff

          > aircraft are struck by lightning most days and survive without damage almost all of the time

          They don't contain a few hundred tons of liquid oxygen

          They aren't electrically connected to the ground by a stream of exhaust gas

  10. Hopalong

    No 'GO fever'

    I am sorry it did not launch last night, been waiting a long time.

    But I am pleased that the presence of so many big wigs did not cloud their decision making.

    The weather for the weekend does not look much better, maybe they should look to a morning launch before the summer thunderstorms have a chance to build up, but the timing is dependent of where the ISS is and if you launch when the ISS is not in the right place in relation to the launch site, Dragon will need to burn a lot of fuel making the required orbital changes to meet up with the ISS.

    But they had a full wet dress rehearsal, which improves the confidence in the vehicle and procedures.

    1. Sanctimonious Prick
      Thumb Up

      Re: No 'GO fever'

      What you said.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No 'GO fever'

      Is a wet dress rehearsal something like a wet T shirt rehearsal, but more thorough?

      :)

      That said, I agree with the overal sentiment. I am VERY glad they stuck to safety, even though Trump desperately needed the distraction to stop people realising they hit the 100k deaths in the US (depending on sources that happened yesterday already, but US newspapers seem to follow a different counter).

      Thumbs up for Elon here. Or at least SpaceX.

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