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Boeing Starliner Launch Could Be Delayed by Poor Weather

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NASA is planning to launch Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) at 1:20 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 3, but unsettled weather conditions around the launch site at Cape Canaveral, Florida, could delay lift-off.

According to the most recent forecast by the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron, which provides NASA with detailed weather information, the crucial CST-100 Starliner test flight currently has a 60% chance of proceeding as planned.

Posted by the 45th Weather Squadron the day before the planned launch, the forecast mentioned the likelihood of “scattered to numerous afternoon showers and thunderstorms over the Space Coast this week,” but added that the worst of it “is expected to hold off until after tomorrow.”

In a final note of caution, it said that a “weather-related violation is still possible due to activity pushing onshore from the eastern Gulf of Mexico each morning.”

If Tuesday’s launch of the ULA Atlas V rocket and Starliner spacecraft is called off, the next opportunity will be the following day.

NASA has a document listing the launch criteria for a ULA Atlas V rocket. It includes guidelines such as, “Do not launch through or within five to 10 miles of cumulus clouds with tops that extend into freezing temperatures unless specified conditions and distances can be met,” and, “Do not launch within 10 nautical miles of the edge of a thunderstorm that is producing lightning for 30 minutes after the last.”

Once the mission gets underway, the uncrewed Starliner will head to the ISS for a five-day stay at the orbiting outpost 250 miles above Earth before returning home via a parachute-assisted landing in the New Mexico desert.

The Starliner mission is Boeing’s second attempt at a rendezvous with the ISS after a mission failure in December 2019 when various software issues aboard the spacecraft prevented it from reaching the correct orbit.

If this week’s test flight goes according to plan, NASA will have another option for transporting astronauts and cargo between Earth and the space station alongside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which started carrying astronauts in 2020.

If you’re interested in watching a livestream of the Starliner launch on Tuesday, August 3, 98bpm has all the information you need.

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