Why There’s Been a Lull in Launches on Florida’s Space Coast
Rocket launches are thrilling to watch, and they’re arguably one of the most popular activities on the Florida’s Space Coast. And the first thing to remember is that these launches are missions, not tourist events. So why has there been a lull in launches lately?
Think about everything that needs to happen before a plane takes off. The plane is fueled, passengers have to debark, the plane needs to be cleaned, and the luggage has to be unloaded and loaded. For a rocket launch, there is much more that needs to be done before it can blast into the atmosphere, and there are many factors that determine if a rocket is ready to be launched not.
However, similar to one of the reasons why a plane can be delayed, weather is a major factor when it comes to launches. According to NASA, for one of their rockets to launch, weather needs to be nearly perfect. Some launch days may start with bad weather, but when it comes to that launch window, there needs to be no precipitation, the winds slower than 21 mph from the northeast (39 mph from other directions) and the temperature has to be above 48 degrees Fahrenheit. A rocket fully prepared to launch can be scrubbed simply by a few droplets of rain; however, you can hold out hope as long as the launch window is open. Sometimes they will launch if conditions clear by the end of the launch window.
To be quite honest, we’re not 100% sure why the launch schedule has slowed down heading into quarter four. There’s still a chance that we may see high-profile launches this year, including the first uncrewed and crewed demonstration flights led by SpaceX and Boeing. But as we head into manned space flight again, it’s likely that the space industry is proceeding with caution and testing things appropriately to ensure safety.
Last year, Florida’s Space Coast saw about 20 launches whereas this year, we have seen about 11 and four more are tentatively scheduled for the rest of the year. Whether it’s contract delays, testing delays or weather delays, there are many factors that go into planning a rocket launch.
Your Place for a Space Vacation
Although 2019 wasn’t quite as busy on the rocket launch front here on Florida’s Space Coast, this is still the place for your next space vacation. Come visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and immerse yourself in space history with interactive experiences. From getting up close to Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Apollo/Saturn V Center to spending a full day at the Astronaut Training Experience, there are still plenty of things to give you a space themed vacation outside of a rocket launch.
As we look to 2020, it’s expected to be a successful year for launches, including the launch of the Mars Rover 2020 with expected launch to take place between July 17 to August 5. One thing is for certain, there’s a lot to look forward to on the Space Coast in 2020 and beyond.
For the latest information on Space Coast launches, download the Launch Console app on the iTunes Store or the Google Play Store.