Cape Canaveral -- After Wednesday's SpaceX / NASA launch was scrubbed due to weather, the new launch time on Saturday could run into a similar problem. Tomorrow's forecast calls for a 50% chance of thunderstorms during the day, with a launch time of 3:22 p.m. EST.
Earlier today, Meteorologist A.J. Waterman reached out to Meteorologist Brian Cizek of the 45th Weather Squadron to discuss how weather affects rocket launches, and how the 45th Weather Squadron has a unique roll in the launch process.
Since rockets are especially prone to thunderstorm activity, and specifically lightning, it is the job of the 45th Weather Squadron is to prevent natural or triggered lightning strikes from impacting the rocket. Natural lightning strikes being thunderstorm induced, triggered lightning strikes being lightning induced from the rocket launch and a nearby cloud thunderstorm. Both can damage the rocket, and sometimes severely.
Wednesday's rocket launch violated three of the ten Lightning Launch Commit Criteria that the squadron uses to give launches a green light. The most notable violation was an anvil over the site from a nearby thunderstorm, which ultimately led to the launch postponement.
NASA director Jim Bridenstine says there is no decision on Saturday's flight, but plans on reassessing the situation Saturday morning...
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) May 29, 2020