Great SpaceX Falcon Heavy weather forecast

Launch success looks more dubious

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist

First test flight of Falcon Heavy is targeted for Tuesday, Feb. 6th from Kennedy Space Center. When Falcon Heavy lifts off, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The odds for good weather are higher than a successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket Tuesday at Kennedy Space Center.

One way or another, a blast is in the works at 1:30 p.m. when this generation's most powerful rocket attempts a risky inaugural launch.

WATCH: News4Jax will stream the launch online,
or step outside, look southeast just above the horizon

The high risk is apparent after the vehicle provider openly told the public there was a good chance things might end catastrophically. But SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, may have set the bar low because of the complexity of the rocket.

Musk in an interview with astronomer-writer Phil Plait said: "There is a good chance this monster rocket blows up, so I wouldn't put anything of irreplaceable sentimental value on it.” 

Perhaps this is why the test flight will only carry a Tesla Roadster into Mars orbit from Launch Pad 39A; the same site that launch the Apollo astronauts. 

This rocket is capable of carrying the heaviest payload into low earth orbit since Saturn V blasted into space in the 1970s. Three Falcon 9 rocket boosters can haul 141,000 pounds in payload weight. 

Two of those thrusters  will breakaway during ascent and land back on SpaceX’s two landing pads in Cape Canaveral.

The main booster is also designed to be reused if it successfully lands back on Earth at a waiting SpaceX’s drone ships in the Atlantic ocean. 

While all this seems complicated, the weather should cooperate during a launch window from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

There is only a 20% concern for bad weather. The main concerns are liftoff winds and thick clouds. Winds will become easterly at 15 mph, bringing a few low-level clouds in off the water. Maximum upper-level winds will be from the west at 90 knots near 40,000 feet.

If the launch was delayed until Wednesday, another frontal system moves into the Florida Panhandle lowering launch weather to 30% chance for launch.

 

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