Thursday, July 31, 2014

#AFSPC4 scrub on #Delta4, my first of many missed launches since moving to Florida

It was bound to happen, but after 23 months of living in Florida, I was out of town for a launch. The AFSPC 4 launch on the Delta 4 would have been my 22nd launch since moving to Florida Sept. 2012. I only attended one of the four scrubs on July 24th (I was hoping to watch it 7/23 while sailing), and was out of town for the other two scrubs. This has only happened to me twice before. The first mission where I witnessed a scrub (actually two) and missed the launch was STS-127 when +NASA invited the Student Ambassador's to a special conference and launch viewing opportunity. I did drive back one-week later from Cleveland (I was at NASA Glenn Research Center for my PhD research that summer) hoping to see STS-127, but it was scrubbed again. Luckily we did see the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launch to the Moon (18 June 2009) with the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)! The second near-miss was for the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission when I came for my interview with Space Florida and it scrubbed. We didn't move down to Florida from Cambridge until after the launch (September). For the record, my differentiation between a scrub and a delay is if they fuel the rocket. If it's fueled and doesn't fly, it's a scrub!

Rockets in mirror are closer than they appear. We slowly watched a blue sky over the rocket get covered by lightning storms in the area and heavy cloud coverage.

The fact that Florida is launching nearly one rocket per month is still a great pace and as activity increases on the space coast, I look forward to the future where I'm missing several launches per month. I believe we can achieve the frequency of one orbital launch per week complemented by suborbital flights even more frequent than that. I won't predict when that happens, because we all know that it's "only two years away".

Too late... clouds are overhead of the rocket and then launch window officially closed. If the launch window was longer (or opened earlier), they may have been able to launch that evening.

For those keeping score on launches, scrubs and delays, here's's summary of this mission. Previous launch information can be viewed on their extremely useful Launch Log.

July 28 Delta 4  •  AFSPC 4
Launch time: 2328 GMT (7:28 p.m. EDT)
Launch site: SLC-37B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket launched the AFSPC 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force. The rocket flew in the Medium+ (4,2) configuration with two solid rocket boosters. The payloads included two satellites for the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program. Delayed from February. Moved forward from December. Scrubbed on July 23, July 24, July 25 and July 26. See our Mission Status Center. [July 28]


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