Space X launch delayed due to the striking of the anvil cloud

14 Apr 2015

The previous launch of the Falcon 9 rocket as part of the CRS-5 mission. Image via SpaceX

Once again, Space X’s attempt to land a rocket on its floating barge has been thwarted at the last minute after the landing was called off due to the approach of a dangerous ‘anvil cloud’.

Due to launch at 9.33pm UTC last night, the test was Space X’s second attempt at trying to successfully land a rocket engine it has designed to be reusable on its floating landing-pad-cum-barge.

The previous attempt to land the rocket on the barge was made in December last year when the commercial space company’s founder, Elon Musk, played down the possibility of success at the first attempt saying that its odds at the time were 50/50.

The rocket did not successfully land but hit the barge too hard due to a shortage of hydraulic fluid to keep the rocket afloat, and rather unfortunately crashed into the barge, which Musk described as “close, but no cigar this time”.

Space X launch infographic

Infographic charting the re-usable rocket launch. Click on the image for a zoomed-in version. Image via Space X/Flickr

The CRS-6 mission is part of Space X’s plan to make going to space a lot cheaper, not only when it comes to sending future astronauts into space, but also when it comes to being a regular supplier of the International Space Station (ISS) and future space stations that are currently being discussed by the various international space agencies.

According to Musk, this time on Twitter, the recent delay in launch was due to adverse weather that appeared to show lightning from an approaching anvil cloud was nearby just 15 minutes before it was due to take off.

Musk also went on to say that the launch window was particularly tight with the gravitational pull between the Earth and sun just fractionally out, hence the day-long delay in its relaunch, scheduled for 9.10pm UTC.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic