Cruise ship gets in the way of SpaceX rocket, forcing abort of launch

A SpaceX rocket launch from Cape Canaveral on Sunday was forced to abort after a cruise ship was found to still be inside the hazard area.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch planned for January 30th, 2022 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station was just seconds from blast off when the launch director ordered an abort.

The launch was scrubbed because a cruise ship was inside the hazard area, according to Cruise Hive.

The launch was scrubbed and took off on Monday instead

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The launch required a precise liftoff time in order to meet its exact polar orbit destination for satellite deployment, and as a result the launch window was instantaneous and could not be delayed even for a few minutes to escort the ship from the restricted area.

The rocket’s payload, the Italian Space Agency’s COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellite, part of a fleet of remote sensing spacecraft to monitor shipping traffic, natural disasters, and climate change, was launched on Monday instead.

In a statement on Twitter, SpaceX confirmed the scrub.

“Standing down from today’s launch of COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 due to ship in the hazard area; team is setting up for next opportunity tomorrow, January 31 at 6:11 p.m. EST.”

The cruise ship was reportedly making its way to the no-go zone that the Coast Guard was unable to clear out of the area before T-minus zero. It’s unclear why the ship was in the hazard area, given the advisories issued by SpaceX.

A Coast Guard investigation is underway, as all ships are required to be aware of launch operations and to steer clear of restricted areas during launch windows.

There were only two ships that had departed Port Canaveral near the time of the launch, Harmony of the Seas and MSC Meraviglia, although neither Royal Caribbean or MSC Cruises have confirmed if it was their vessel in the hazard area.

Cruise Hive notes that based on the two ship’s itineraries, it was most likely Harmony of the Seas that caused the launch to be aborted.

“Harmony of the Seas left the port at approximately 5 p.m., turning south once it was out to sea, beginning a 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailing.

MSC Meraviglia departed Port Canaveral at 6 p.m. to begin a 4-night Bahamas cruise, and was photographed sailing alongside Jetty Park in Port Canaveral just after 6 p.m., not yet clear of port channel.

Because of these ship positions, and because the no-go zone was downrange of the launch site, it is most likely Harmony of the Seas that was responsible for the launch scrub, though either ship could have impacted the launch.”

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