First Alert Weather Academy: Weather impact on rocket launches

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WTOC) - Did you happen to catch the May 30 SpaceX launch; the second-such attempt to send astronauts back into space from Cape Canaveral?

Of course, the first attempt was aborted earlier in the week because of nasty weather along Florida's east coast and, of course, our second-named tropical system of the Atlantic Hurricane Season making landfall in South Carolina.

In order for a launch to occur, we need near-perfect conditions; no imminent rain, nor severe surface wind gusts - even surrounding storms could have posed a risk and jeopardized the launch.

And, despite live streams showing mostly sunny skies at the time of launch, the weather was actually a bit closer of a call than it may have seemed.

The infamous Florida sea breeze was setting up along the east coast of Florida and moving westward thanks to a light easterly flow off the Atlantic. It fired a few showers earlier in the day mid to late morning; firing up just inland from the beaches and Cape Canaveral.

But, individual showers and thunderstorms were pushing back east towards the coast and even Cape Canaveral, near the launch pad, saw a little bit of rain there just before the launch - occurring at 3:22 p.m. That was the launch time.

By that time, the sea breeze was further inland, the air was stabilized around the launch pad and rain was less likely. The weather, overall, was more favorable for the launch. But, just think about it, if the sea breeze had been moving a little bit slower... if moisture had been more plentiful... showers and storms could have lingered all throughout the day. Heavy rain, frequent lightning and gusty winds - any number of factors could have canceled this launch as well. It just goes to show, it doesn’t take a bit storm to cause big issues in the space industry.

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