Weather Blog: The forecast for Saturday's Falcon 9 launch

By Jamie Martin, Meteorologist
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2017, 3:12 PM EST

We have a Falcon 9 launch scheduled this Saturday morning, Feb. 18 at about 10:01 a.m.

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 launch set for 10 a.m. Saturday
  • Falcon 9 to send supplies to International Space Station
  • RELATED: Rocket launch schedule

The really interesting part of this mission to resupply the ISS is that it will launch from Pad 39a at Kennedy Space Center. That pad was last used in 2011 as the shuttle fleet was retired. This is also the pad where the Apollo missions to the moon launched from.

Hopefully all will go as scheduled, but the weather may interfere. According to the 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron, there is a 50 percent chance weather may delay the launch because of thick clouds and possible rain.

"The clouds and rain will gradually increase through the countdown and be entrenched over the Spaceport by mid-day. The primary weather concern for launch Saturday is the thick cloud cover and rain showers associated with the upper-level trough. Maximum upper-level winds will be from the west-southwest at 100 knots at 36,000 feet."

Here is a look at the specific criteria for weather conditions and when to postpone a launch.

Do Not Launch:

  • If the sustained wind at the 162-foot level of the launch pad exceeds 30 knots (34.5 mph)
  • Through upper-level conditions containing wind shear that could lead to control problems for the launch vehicle
  • For 30 minutes after lightning is observed within 10 nautical miles of the launch pad or the flight path, unless specified conditions can be met
  • Within 10 nautical miles of an attached thunderstorm anvil cloud, unless temperature and time-associated distance criteria can be met
  • Within 10 nautical miles of a detached thunderstorm anvil cloud
  • Within 3 nautical miles of a thunderstorm debris cloud, unless specific time-associated distance criteria can be met
  • Within 5 nautical miles of disturbed weather clouds that extend into freezing temperatures and contain moderate or greater precipitation, unless specific time-associated distance criteria can be met
  • For 15 minutes if field mill instrument readings within five nautical miles of the launch pad exceed +/- 1,500 volts per meter, or +/- 1,000 volts per meter if specified criteria can be met
  • Through a cloud layer greater than 4,500 feet thick that extends into freezing temperatures, unless other specific criteria can be met
  • Within 10 nautical miles of cumulus clouds with tops that extend into freezing temperatures, unless specific height-associated distance criteria can be met
  • Within 10 nautical miles of the edge of a thunderstorm that is producing lightning within 30 minutes after the last lightning is observed
  • Through cumulus clouds formed as the result of or directly attached to a smoke plume, unless time-associated criteria can be met

So as you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when it is time for the go/no go for launch. 

Stay with News 13 for the latest on the forecast throughout the week and on launch day.