The fog certainly frustrated the external observers, but it doesn't seem ideal from SpaceX perspective either.

All the external observers were very distant from the launch/landing site and would be ground-based. That would make it very difficult to see through even a very light low-lying fog. So certainly all the external observers had a hard time with the fog.

However, it also seems less than ideal for SpaceX. They obviously have a lot of on-board instrumentation including numerous cameras and they presumably have several redundant telemetry links (though not very reliable in this case). So they must collect a huge amount of data by this means. But I assume observations from outside the craft are also very imporant in confirming altitude, velocity, attitude, exhaust-composition, structural integrity, etc. Perhaps visibilty from closer-in cameras and from cameras positioned higher up or on drones was considered good enough. Or maybe there was an FAA launch window that was about to expire?

But my question is: why didn't the foggy conditions seem to pose any problem to SpaceX. Why not wait a few hours for the fog to clear?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ +1 armchair totally unsupported theory: the fog presented an opportunity to test the emergency self-destruct system without the accompanying spectacular videos that would echo around the internet years later when they started putting large groups of people in it. update: I've just asked Are rocket self-destruct systems ever tested/proven? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 1 at 1:32
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Hah, yes, it was certainly well-cloaked and successful in that respect. $\endgroup$
    – Roger Wood
    Apr 1 at 3:12
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    $\begingroup$ Poor know how: probably they tought "we have plenty of telemetries, we don't need visual". Now they've learnt that images ARE telemetries, which can provide a lot of additional data w.r.t some sensors spread around: you would need 100 sensors to figure out where each piece of the rocket landed, but just one camera to accomplish same task. $\endgroup$
    – jumpjack
    Apr 1 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ @jumpjack At this point, I don't think we even know whether the RUD was above or below the fogline. Maybe they did have some eyes on it. Cameras are very useful. $\endgroup$
    – Roger Wood
    Apr 1 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ Elon's impatience may have played a part. $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Apr 1 at 18:35

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