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In architecture and engineering obviously wind and wind shear are important issues for tall buildings. I understand that weather is an important condition for the launch of rockets or the hundreds of shuttle launches.

Was there ever a near miss when an unanticipated wind/weather event nearly jeopardized a rocket or shuttle launch? And what was the response?

This is for a (historically accurate) storyline, but I figured this is the most relevant SE section to ask this.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about wind & weather jeopardizing the safety of a flight in progress, or jeopardizing the timing of a launch? Weather holds and scrubs are extremely common in rocket launches, precisely because they don't want to risk it. $\endgroup$ Sep 7 '15 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ Jeopardizing the timing of a launch, but specifically when the rocket is already prepared for launch and an unexpected event has occurred (not just scrapping/moving the date/time because of weather). $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Sep 7 '15 at 18:28
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The Space Review has an entire article devoted to such failures. I've also found a few other. Missions where wind was, or was almost, a failure, include the following:

  • Atlas Centaur AC-67 FLTSATCOM 6- Weather was go until a last minute weather balloon was launched, not according to plan. The balloon found the winds were unacceptable for launch a mere 15 minutes before launch, likely saving the mission.
  • Thor DM-21 Agena-D- Upper atmosphere winds were too high, resulting in a failed rocket launch, which was self-destructed when it went off course.
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In addition to the incidents listed in @PearsonArtPhoto's answer:

During the STS-115 launch countdown a wind direction change occurred at ~15,000 feet (15 ft/s tailwind to 10 ft/s headwind) over a period of roughly an hour. Since the first stage trajectory had been designed using the original winds, this resulted in a reduction in dynamic pressure margin. A special assessment was done using the L-1:10 winds measurement and dynamic pressure was predicted to be at ~100.2% of the limit where 100.5% would have been a "no-go" call. None of the "wind change" rules had been violated. This analysis took place between T-39 and T-28 minutes - per the normal ascent preparation timeline, the final assessment of this regime had already been done.

No limits were violated and none would have been if the issue hadn't been detected. Also, there was some amount of conservatism built into the system. But, we were ~0.3% away from launching into a possible structural loads exceedance.

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    $\begingroup$ 0.3% from hitting the acceptable limit of launching into structural loads exceedance. Remember, there's already a built in acceptable tolerance. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Sep 7 '15 at 21:07
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    $\begingroup$ "there was some amount of conservatism built into the system" $\endgroup$ Sep 7 '15 at 21:18
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Weather-related holds and scrubs are extremely common. There are strict rules about wind speed and cloud cover limits for launches, and often there's a window of an hour or less on a given day for a launch; if the weather doesn't cooperate through the launch window, they detank the rocket and try again the next day.

A recent example is the Delta IV/WGS-7 launch, postponed for a day in July 2015.

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