Weather conditions needed for rocket launches

Ignition, and blastoff! Space launches are planned months in advance. We can only send astronauts to space, however, if weather here on Earth cooperates on launch day.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket was set to be launched on Thursday, April 22. Because of inclement weather along the flight path, the launch had to be pushed to Friday morning instead.

There are 14 weather conditions that have to be met in order to hear "all systems go!" Here are a few categories: wind, lightning, freezing temperatures, and clouds.

Sustained winds need to stay below 30 miles per hour. This includes winds on the ground, and winds at the 162 foot level above the ground. Winds above the ground can blow the rocket off of its course.

With lightning, a rocket cannot be launched when there are thunderstorms up to ten miles away. The launch can't occur until 30 minutes past the last lightning.

If there are any leftover thunderstorm clouds, that can also be a no-go for launch.

Smoke clouds are also a no-go. A rocket can't fly into any smoke clouds above the launch pad.

Temperatures aren't frequently freezing in Cape Canaveral, but air temperatures or cloud temperatures above the site can dip below freezing. If that's the case, the launch can't go on as planned.

If all of the conditions are met, then there is ignition, and blastoff!

The Friday morning launch was successful, and astronauts are now docked at the International Space Station.

Share this article: