Will #ScrubTuesday Become #LaunchWednesday? (Updated)

Will #ScrubTuesday Become #LaunchWednesday? (Updated)

The much anticipated one-day bonanza of space launches fizzled today when all four were scrubbed for weather or technical reasons.  Three were U.S. and one was European. Anyone who follows space launches knows a lot of things can go wrong and delays are not surprising, but, still, for not one to take place was a disappointment.  At the moment, all are planning to try again tomorrow and there will a fifth rocket on a  pad — an Indian GSLV — so it is conceivable there could be an even bigger trove than what was expected today.  What came to be hashtagged on Twitter as #ScrubTuesday could turn into #LaunchWednesday — or not.  Tomorrow will also see three ISS crew members return home. That, at least, should take place on time. (UPDATE: See below for details, but basically it was another bust for U.S. launches, but the two international launches occurred as scheduled. The three ISS crew members landed safely.)

We previewed all the planned launches yesterday.  Here’s what happened.  All times for the rescheduled launches are as of 6:20 pm ET December 18 and are subject to change.

ORIGINAL SCHEDULE: December 18,9:11 am ET SpaceX launch of GPS III from Cape Canaveral, FL.  

Delayed December 18 until almost the end of the 26 minute launch window due to upper level winds, then a technical problem with the rocket was detected and there was not enough time for SpaceX to fix it before the window closed.  Rescheduled for 9:07 am ET December 19. [UPDATE, Dec. 19: SpaceX has again delayed the launch.  This evening it said will try again tomorrow, December 20, but the weather forecast is only 20 percent favorable.  The 26 minute launch window opens at 9:03 am ET.]

ORIGINAL SCHEDULE: December 18, 9:30 am ET Blue Origin test of New Shepard suborbital rocket, West Texas. 

Delayed December 18 due to “ground infrastructure issue.”  Possibly rescheduled for 9:30 am ET December 19. [UPDATE, Dec. 18: The company said Tuesday evening that it will wait until Friday.  On Dec. 19, it said it will postpone until “early 2019.”]

ORIGINAL SCHEDULE:  December 18, 11:37 am ET Arianespace launch of Soyuz rocket with CSO-1 imaging satellite, Kourou, French Guiana. Rescheduled for 11:37 am ET December 19 [UPDATE: This launch took place on time.]

Scrubbed December 18 due to upper level winds.

ORIGINAL SCHEDULE: December 18, 8:57 pm ET ULA launch of NROL-71 spy satellite, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.  

Scrubbed December 18 due to high winds.  Rescheduled for 8:44 pm ET December 19. [UPDATE: The launch was scrubbed on December 19 because of a hydrogen leak.  ULA is planning to try again at 8:31 pm ET on December 20.]

Tomorrow (December 19), the first scheduled launch is not on that list.  The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to launch its GSLV rocket at 5:40 am ET.  It will loft the GSAT-7A communications satellite from its launch site at Sriharikota, India. [UPDATE, December 19: This launch took place on time.]

If all went according to plan, five launches on one day — three U.S., two international — would be impressive, demonstrating the wide range of space launch capabilities available today.  Time will tell if the weather and technology let that happen.

Whatever comes to pass with launches, three ISS crew members are almost certain to return as planned.  The Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft is due to undock from ISS at 8:42 pm ET and land in Kazakhstan at 12:03 am ET on December 20.  Coming home are NASA’s Serena Auñón-Chancellor, ESA’s Alexander Gerst, and Roscosmos’s Sergey Prokopyev.  That means NASA’s Anne McClain, the Canadian Space Agency’s David Saint-Jacques, and Roscosmos’s Oleg Kononenko will have the place to themselves until the next crew launches on February 28, 2019. [UPDATE, Dec. 20, 12:20 am ET:  The three crew members landed safely, one minute early, at 12:02 am ET, on the snowy steppes of Kazakhstan.]


This article has been updated.

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