A Coast Guard investigation was carried out after the Royal Caribbean cruise ship ‘Harmony of the Seas’ intervention forced the abortion of SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The ship steered into the exclusion zone created for the Falcon 9 rocket’s flight path minutes before the 6:11 pm EST launch, forcing SpaceX to hold the mission and prepare for a 24-hour turnaround.
The launch engineers waited for the Coast Guard to rectify the unplanned trouble but eventually ran out of time to check the instantaneous window’s deadline. It thus marked the fourth delay of the mission, the last being scrubbed due to rough weather around Launch Complex 40.
In a statement issued on Monday, U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson David Micallef said: “We can confirm the cruise ship was Harmony of the Seas. The Coast Guard is actively investigating Sunday’s cruise ship incursion and postponement of the SpaceX launch.” “Our primary concern is the safety of mariners at sea, and we will continue to work with our federal, state and local port partners to ensure safe and navigable waterways,” Micallef added.
“The 2022 launch pace is going to be exceptionally busy, with up to five polar, and seven total launches, projected for the month of January alone. Due to the unique southerly trajectories, there will be a larger potential impact to air and sea traffic along the southeast coast of Florida. We ask that all pilots and mariners double-check their Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) and Notices to Mariners (NOTMAR) to ensure they are fully aware of all pending launch activities in this historic month on the Space Coast.”
SPACE FORCE MAJ. JONATHAN SZUL
Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said: “Port Canaveral fully supports the space industry in our region. This, unfortunately, was an isolated incident that happened outside of our control. The Coast Guard is conducting a full investigation, and we look forward to continuing to work with them and our space partners to ensure the continued success of this important enterprise.”
The launch path was towards the southeast, an unused patch from 1960 to 2020. New technologies have helped SpaceX to resume north-to-south polar launches from Florida, which fly almost parallel to the coast. The pilots and mariners on the route need to be on alert for different exclusion zones and not cause a hindrance in the missions.
Hazard areas, designed to manage the risks to people and property in the event of a rocket failure, are issued before every mission.