It’s Saturday September 20th and the Gilroy lab team is back at Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX 4’s launch target was 2:53 am, so of course we were waiting on at KSC to see the rocket climb majestically into the sky. It was raining hard and the clouds were pretty dense but if you are in the spaceflight business, you have to be an optimist. So we were waiting, incessantly checking the online launch progress feed and willing the weather to break.
About an hour before the launch time early this morning, SpaceX decided there was no chance of going and scrubbed the launch. The weather was violating two launch rules: there were thick clouds and “disturbed” weather. That was better than earlier in the day when there were seven “no go” conditions, including the cryptically named Mill Field Rule (something about electrical charge buildup on the ground from the weather) but even one “no go” really does mean no go.
We are watching the weather again today and will be at KSC again for the next launch attempt at 1:52 am Sunday morning. So, why are we back at Kennedy Space Center now rather than sleeping? It’s time to set up the next set of samples so that if we scrub again tonight we are ready for attempt #3 early on Tuesday. Although you have to be an optimist to work in the world of spaceflight, you also have to plan for setbacks.