SpaceX launch delayed by ship in hazard area, back-to-back-to-back launches now possible

On Sunday, January 30, space fans near Cape Canaveral and around the world waited to see SpaceX launch CSG-2, an Earth-observing satellite for the Italian space agency. Launch attempts on the previous three days all had to be delayed due to weather, but the weather had dramatically improved for the Sunday launch attempt, with clear skies and calm winds. Unfortunately, a cruise ship departing Port Canaveral entered the launch hazard area, forcing SpaceX to put a hold on the launch.

The Air Force (now Space Force) and Coast guard personnel around Cape Canaveral have always worked closely together to ensure that the airspace and water around Cape Canaveral remain safely clear during launches.

Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs)and Notices to Mariners (NOTMARs) designate the areas that are off limits to aircraft and boats respectively during a set period of time around launches. It is standard practice to check for these in advance of a trip, and ships located near spaceports are particularly familiar with these notices.

It is believed that the ship violating the hazard area was a cruise ship, though which specific cruise ship it was is not certain, as there were multiple cruise ships in and around Port Canaveral at the time of the launch.

Update (January 31, 1:28 p.m. ET): The Coast Guard and Port Canaveral have confirmed the ship in violation was the Royal Caribbean vessel Harmony of the Seas, and an investigation is underway.

The delay in the launch, to Monday, January 31 at 6:11 p.m. ET has likely pushed SpaceX’s launch of Starlink 4-7, which was set to launch Monday, to a Tuesday launch. If this is the case, SpaceX will have three launch days in a row, starting with CSG-2 on January 31, followed by Starlink 4-7 on February 1, then NROL-87 on February 2.

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