According to meteorologists with the 45th Weather Squadron believe there’s a 40% chance that weather will be unfavorable for the planned historic launch of the Crew Dragon, which is due to lift American astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS). The demo flight will be the first time astronauts traveled to space from American soil since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. The launch is set for 4:33pm ET on May 27.
The 45th Weather Squadron is responsible for providing weather forecast information to crews that’ll decide whether or not to launch on-time. Beyond tracking the weather at the launch site, mission control is also monitoring the weather where boosters will be recovered, as well as overall space weather conditions for the journey to the ISS.
Currently, the greatest concern with the launch weather conditions is the possible presence of anvil and cumulus clouds and falling precipitation due to a tropical wave moving through Florida. Showers and thunderstorms located over extreme northeastern Florida, adjacent Atlantic waters, and the northwestern Bahamas are associated with an elongated surface trough interacting with an upper-level disturbance. Although a weak surface low has formed within the trough near Orlando, Florida, the National Hurricane Center expects little additional development of the system due to strong upper level winds, an abundance of dry air in the mid-levels of the atmosphere, and the ongoing interaction the system has with the land. This broad disturbance is forecast to move northward today and Wednesday, remaining inland or near the coasts of northeastern Florida and Georgia. While much of the precipitation will shift north away from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, residual moisture and upper steering currents could bring thundershowers to the Space Coast during launch time.
Conditions improve somewhat on Thursday’s back-up launch date, with a 30% chance weather will violate allowable launch conditions, leaving a 70% chance of favorable launch weather.
Dragon Dawn pic.twitter.com/mz1EzU5GSO
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Once a launch occurs, Behnken and Hurley will begin their tasks in the Crew Dragon capsule as it heads to the ISS.
Behnken will be the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the space station. Behnken is no stranger to space; he was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and has completed two space shuttle flights. Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010; he also performed three spacewalks during each mission. Born in St. Anne, Missouri, he has Bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University and earned a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from California Institute of Technology. Before joining NASA, Behnken was a flight test engineer with the U.S. Air Force.
Hurley will be the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights. Hurley served as pilot and lead robotics operator for both STS‐127 in July 2009 and STS‐135, the final space shuttle mission, in July 2011. The New York native was born in Endicott but considers Apalachin his hometown. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tulane University in Louisiana and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland. Before joining NASA, he was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.