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US Coast Guard investigating after Royal Caribbean cruise ship scrubs SpaceX launch

The incident is the second time in the last year the company had to stand down due to a last-minute hazard zone entry.
Credit: AP
FILE- In this Feb. 18, 2016 file photo, the "Harmony of the Seas" docks at the STX Shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, western France. (AP Photo/Laetitia Notarianni, File)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — After several weather delays, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket was getting ready to launch the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 for the Italian Space Agency on Sunday. 

As the clock ticked down toward liftoff things came to a halt and eventually another scrub. But this time it wasn't due to poor weather — it was a cruise ship.

"Standing down from today's launch of COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2 due to ship in the hazard area," SpaceX tweeted.

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed the ship that entered the zone was a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and that an investigation into the incident is underway.

"The Coast Guard is actively investigating Sunday’s cruise ship incursion and postponement of the Space X launch in Port Canaveral. 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," the USCG wrote in a statement to 10 Tampa Bay. 

Hazard areas are set and issued ahead of all launch-related missions to help avoid risks should something go wrong. Ultimately, it's put in place to help ensure public safety at the time of launch. 

Port Canaveral CEO John Murray told Florida Today, which was first to report the news, the following: 

"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.”

Sunday's incident isn't the first time SpaceX was forced to stand down due to a last-minute hazard area entry.

In June 2021, the company was forced to delay its Transporter-2 launch after an aircraft entered the "keep out zone" will 11 seconds on the countdown clock.

"There is simply no way that humanity can become a spacefaring civilization without major regulatory reform. The current regulatory system is broken," Musk tweeted at the time.

10 Tampa Bay reached out to Royal Caribbean for comment. This story will be updated when, and if, we hear back.

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