ULA delays California launch because of Florida hurricane

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

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Because some of its employees needed for a California launch in next week live in Florida, ULA has decided to delay that launch so that those employees can focus on preparing for and recovering from Hurricane Irma in Florida.

What I find interesting about this story is that it reveals that ULA, unlike SpaceX, apparently does not have more than one launch team, even though their staffing has historically been much higher. This limits their ability to do frequent launches, as well as launches from both coasts.


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  • Edward

    Having only one launch team makes it more impressive when they do two launches in quick succession, especially from both coasts. Usually, between launches, the crew would get some time of less stressful work.


  • Edward: Two launches in six days for ULA was good, but it is clear now that it pushed their launch team to the limit. SpaceX meanwhile has shown that it can launch twice in a weekend, from both coasts.

  • wayne

    -How many people does it take, to launch an Atlas 5? (How many people does it take to launch a Falcon 9?) [there’s a joke in there, but it’s a real question.]
    -Has the Space Center ever been hit by a hurricane? What sort of wind-speed can the vehicle assembly building endure?

    – pivoting slightly, has anyone been to Fort Jefferson, at the Dry Tortugas National Park?
    (70 miles west of Key West.)

    Dry Tortugas National Park

  • Kirk

    Wayne: “pivoting slightly, has anyone been to Fort Jefferson, at the Dry Tortugas National Park?”

    I sailed there once, back in the the early ’90s. My Dad got a sailboat when he retired to Florida, and he used it primarily for summer cruising in the Bahamas (yes, summer, as in hurricane season, but also as in warm water season). We made a handful of winter trips, each of which usually wound up including several days of shivering during a cold snap on an unheated boat.

    One year we sailed to Key West where we picked up additional family members and then headed further west. The cold snap came and we weathered a winter storm anchored off the Marquesas Keys, part way out to the Tortugas. When we made it to the Tortugas, the water had been churned up by the storm and the visibility was too poor for diving. (Though we had gotten in some good diving earlier at Looe Key near Key West.)

    We enjoyed visiting Ft. Jefferson and learning of Dr. Samuel Mudd’s time there. In addition to the ferries (as mentioned in your video), a fair number of visitors came from Key West on float planes.

    I’ve not heard news of the Fort’s current physical shape, or if it is thought to be endangered by the storm.

    Have you been there, Wayne?

  • wayne

    Very cool! Thanks for the Adventure!

    They have a website; ferry service is halted, Park is closed, everyone has left. My first thought was, holy cow! it’s going to be underwater. But, it’s been there for 200 years.
    (tangentially– the Hemmingway Museum people (& Cats) are sheltering in-place, that apparently survived the 1935 hurricane.)
    Have not been there myself, but I would like to do so. It’s on my List! lived in Tampa for 9 months in the early 80’s but only ever made it as far as Key West and have never driven on the new highway, it wasn’t finished at the time, and yowza, I did not like driving on old route 1.

    Florida Keys: Overseas Highway & 7 Mile Bridge Aerial

  • Kirk

    Wayne —

    Ft. Jefferson is the massive sort of structure which you wouldn’t expect to be easily washed away, but the forces of erosion are insidious. Fortunately, it appears that some restoration work has been done. Here is a 2013 article from Structure Magazine on “Rebuilding the Walls of Fort Jefferson”. http://www.structuremag.org/?p=259

    The primary issues they dealt with were settlement, loss of mortar, and damage by corrosion of embedded metals.

  • wayne

    Thank you for that very informative article! There is some info on preservation efforts at their website as well:

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