A cruise ship that passed over the intended flight path of a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral on Sunday prompted SpaceX to postpone the launch of an Italian Earth-imaging satellite for the fourth time, rescheduling the mission for shortly after sunset on Monday.
The Coast Guard was unable to move a cruise liner out of the rocket’s downrange danger area in time for the mission’s immediate launch opportunity at 6:11 p.m. EST (2311 GMT) from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
At T-minus 33 seconds, the countdown was halted, and the launch director declared that SpaceX’s crew will try again Monday at the same time.
SpaceX’s mission to launch Italy’s newest COSMO-SkyMed radar remote sensing satellite has been postponed for the fourth time due to a last-minute hold. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the Falcon 9 was unable to take off due to bad weather.
The weather was cool on Sunday, but perfect for the launch. Winds and clouds are expected to be acceptable for Falcon 9 liftoff on Monday evening, with a 90 percent likelihood of favorable circumstances. Approximately eight minutes after launch, the rocket’s reusable first stage will land at Cape Canaveral.
The cruise ship that caused the Sunday delay was not identified by SpaceX. Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises cruise ships sailed out of Port Canaveral on Sunday evening. Just south of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, the port is situated.
The Italian military and the Italian Space Agency will use the COSMO-SkyMed radar satellite to monitor maritime traffic, natural catastrophes, and climate change. The 4,850-pound (2.2-metric-ton) satellite will be launched into polar orbit by SpaceX, which would require the Falcon 9 to travel south from Cape Canaveral, rather than the east or northeast paths utilized by most Florida rockets.
From Cape Canaveral, SpaceX launched the first polar orbit mission in 1969 in 2020. As the southerly launch route becomes increasingly popular, SpaceX will launch the COSMO-SkyMed mission, which will be the company’s sixth polar orbit mission and the second this month.
A polar orbit launch is distinct from a launch to the east or northeast, such as trips to the International Space Station, in terms of the launch danger region for ships and airplanes.
The COSMO-SkyMed mission’s launch attempt on Monday will be the last one before SpaceX shifts its focus to a higher-priority launch for the National Reconnaissance Office, the United States’ spy satellite agency, from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
SpaceX’s next Starlink satellite deployment mission, scheduled to launch Monday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, a few miles north of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, will be delayed as a result of the aborted launch attempt on Sunday.
Late Sunday, there was no indication of a revised launch date for the mission. It will launch 49 additional SpaceX-developed internet satellites into space.