Manned Dragon return on August 2nd threatened by weather


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Capitalism in space: The splashdown of SpaceX’s first manned Dragon capsule Endeavour on August 2nd is now threatened by weather.

Isaias officially became a named tropical storm on Wednesday night, when its wind speeds exceeded 39 mph. The storm could affect several landing areas just as Endeavour is supposed to reenter Earth’s atmosphere, deploy its parachutes, and splash into the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.

Three of the seven landing zones that SpaceX and NASA prescribed for the test mission, called Demo-2, lie within the “cone of probability” for the storm’s path. Those splashdown sites are located off the coasts of Cape Canaveral, Daytona, and Jacksonville, according to NASA. A July 30 map shows NASA and SpaceX’s landing zones for the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission amid the estimated path and conditions of Tropical Storm Isaias. The outer-edge green shows a 5-10% chance of sustained tropical storm-force winds. Google Earth; NOAA; NASA; Business Insider

Depending on how large the storm grows and how nasty weather conditions become, mission managers may scrub the undocking and landing attempt. Steep waves, rain, lightning, low clouds, poor visibility (for helicopters to fly the astronauts from a SpaceX recovery boat back to land), or even winds stronger than about 10 mph can trigger a “no-go” decision.

At the moment they are go for undocking on August 1st and splashdown the next day, but that could change depending on how the weather changes.

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One comment

  • Rose

    National Hurricane Center is now predicting that Isaias will become a hurricane by Saturday.

    SpaceX was recently set to launch their long delayed Starlink / BlackSky rideshare mission on Saturday morning at 03:21 EDT, but they have called it off. With the LZ for these Starlink missions up near the SC/NC border, the storm would have been too far south to affect landing conditions, but they don’t seem to want to tow home a barge with a landed booster through a hurricane!

    The mission has been rescheduled for Thursday, 6 August at around 01:33 EDT per Ben Cooper: http://www.launchphotography.com/Delta_4_Atlas_5_Falcon_9_Launch_Viewing.html

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