SpaceX was to launch an Italian Earth observation satellite on Sunday. A Royal Caribbean cruise ship named Harmony of the Seas has strayed into the exclusion zone, forcing SpaceX to clean up the launch. The US Coast Guard is investigating the incident.
“We can confirm that the cruise ship was Harmony of the Seas. The Coast Guard is actively investigating Sunday’s cruise ship incursion and the delay of the SpaceX launch,” the Coast Guard spokesperson said. , David Micallef.
Royal Caribbean did not respond to requests for comment. It wasn’t immediately clear why Harmony of the Seas veered into the exclusion zone.
The Coast Guard generally maintains exclusion zones during each rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. The exclusion zone provides a safety buffer in the event of a rocket malfunction. A rocket or debris from an explosion could fall into the ocean.
SpaceX is allowed to periodically close roads and beaches near its Boca Chica, Texas test facility for similar reasons, despite occasional complaints about alleged excessive closures.
However, the Coast Guard is not always successful in keeping people out of an exclusion zone during space-related activities. When NASA and SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission broke out last year, the recovery ship was surrounded by private boats recovering the Crew Dragon with Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board.
NASA likely sent behind-the-scenes communications to the Coast Guard regarding better efforts to prevent this from happening again in the future.
Exclusion zones are particularly important for safety on SpaceX missions, as they also land its first-stage boosters most of the time. Right now, SpaceX makes landing boosters from the first stage look almost routine, but they’ve missed the drone and fallen into the ocean before.
SpaceX successfully launched the Italian satellite, Cosmo-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 (CSG-2), Monday at 6:11 p.m. EST. He landed the first-stage booster, marking SpaceX’s 104and successful landing of a booster.
This first stage booster was previously used twice as a side booster for the Falcon Heavy. It was reused as a booster for the Falcon 9 – a first for SpaceX.
It also salvaged the fairing that protects the payloads during launch for refurbishment and reuse. SpaceX used to try to catch fairings in a net suspended between two ships, but gave up due to the limited success rate.
the Cosmo-SkyMed second generation satellites represent a joint project between the Italian Space Agency, the Italian Ministry of Defense and the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Scientific Research. The project consists of two satellites that will observe the Earth using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). This second generation project is designed to build on the original success of the original Cosmo-SkyMed system.
The CSG-2 will aid in a variety of programs and applications that include food and agriculture management, land management, emergency prevention, mapping, forest and environmental protection , natural resource exploration, land management, defense and security and maritime surveillance.
The first satellite, CSG-1, was launched on an Arianespace Soyuz from French Guinea in December 2019. It currently orbits the Earth in a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 620 kilometers. CSG-2 will maneuver to an identical orbit.