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Delta Launch Delayed Until At Least Saturday for Repairs

Rocket will carry an Earth-observing satellite into space for NASA

Some minor repairs to the Delta 2 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base will make NASA wait until at least Saturday for the departure of the Earth-observing satellite after upper-level winds that exceeded limits foiled the first liftoff attempt Thursday.

The United Launch Alliance rocket, standing some 13 stories, was to blast off early Thursday, but now will next try for liftoff on Saturday from Space Launch Complex-2, officials said late Thursday night.

The three-minute launch window is from 6:20 to 6:23 a.m.

With minutes to go before liftoff Thursday morning, mission managers scrubbed the attempt due to winds.

“Obviously it’s a slight disappointment to the team that we weren’t able to launch today but we understand the factors in upper level winds,” Tim Dunn, NASA launch manager, said.

He added that the rocket remains in good condition, and that 30th Space Wing had a “clean and green range” ready to support the launch.

Throughout a countdown, large balloons are released regularly to collect data on wind speed and direction to ensure a rocket can safely fly.

“We did everything we could at the last portion of the countdown to try to manipulate that upper level wind data against a number of curve fits that we can fly differently through those regimes,” Dunn said. “And none of those would accommodate our flight path and trajectory today.”

Later Thursday, while preparing for another launch attempt Friday morning, technicians conducting inspections spotted "minor debonds" to the booster insulation. 

"These insulation debonds are associated with cryogenic conditions experienced during tanking operations and a standard repair will be implemented," the ULA statement said.

Saturday's liftoff attempt is "pending completion of minor repairs to the vehicle," officials said.

The booster is set to carry NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive, or SMAP, craft to join more than a dozen other spacecraft monitoring Earth’s vital signs. 

Specifically, SMAP is expected to deliver detailed data about about the amount of water in dirt. This information will help in a variety of ways, including drought monitoring, flood control and more.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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