Spaceflight Insider

Upper-level winds push Falcon 9 launch to Friday

SpaceX Falcon 9 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 SES 9 photo credit Jason Rhian SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / SpaceFlight Insider

After scrubbing three times last week, SpaceX once again called off their Falcon 9 launch attempt on March 1 due to extremely high upper-level winds. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, tweeted over two and a half hours before the planned liftoff time of 6:35 p.m. EST (23:35 GMT) that they would try again on Friday, although the no official time has been set.


Elon Musk tweeted that the NewSpace firm called off the launch due to high wind shearing. He said the rocket would hit that air “like a sledgehammer when going up supersonic.” Image Credit: Elon Musk

“Unfortunately upper-level winds continue to exceed acceptable limits and are expected to get worse as we approach tonight’s launch window, so we are forgoing today’s launch attempt,” said SpaceX’s Phil Larson. “Winds are forecast to exceed acceptable limits though Thursday. Our team will continue working with the Air Force’s Launch Weather Officer to evaluate the best available opportunity for flight in the coming days.”

Both the launch vehicle and the precious cargo that it is tasked with sending to orbit are safe and being prepared for the next launch attempt.

When the Falcon 9 does launch, the payload, the SES-9 satellite, will be delivered to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). SES-9 will be the largest satellite supporting the Asia-Pacific region. The spacecraft has some 81 high-powered Ku-band transponder equivalents, which will be used to provide high-speed broadband, television, and other services to an array of customers in more than 20 countries.

This version of the Falcon 9, dubbed the “Full Thrust,” utilizes liquid oxygen (LOX) and rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) that are chilled nearly to their freezing points, densifying them. This allows for more fuel to fit inside the rocket’s tanks, increasing its performance—something needed to both send a payload to GTO—and recover the rockets’ first stage downrange.

SpaceX has stated that it is uncertain that it will be able to have the first stage land on the “Of Course I still Love You” Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship, which will be placed out in the Atlantic Ocean. The Hawthorne, California-based firm has attempted on three prior occasions, each getting progressively closer to a successful conclusion. SpaceX has stated that the amount of energy required to place SES-9 in the proper orbit – will likely prevent a successful landing however.

Stay tuned to SpaceFlight Insider for more information.


Derek Richardson is a student studying mass media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He is currently the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also writes a blog, called Orbital Velocity, about the space station. His passion for space ignited when he watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on Oct. 29, 1998. He saw his first in-person launch on July 8, 2011 when the space shuttle launched for the final time. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized that his true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.

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