Saturday, February 26, 2011

Climate satellite grounded for at least a week

Janene Scully in the Santa Maria Times (California): With crews still troubleshooting an elusive problem that led them to scrub Wednesday’s liftoff attempt, the Taurus XL rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base has been delayed for at least a week. Liftoff of the rocket carrying NASA’s climate-studying Glory satellite reportedly has slipped to early or mid-March. Crews have suspended launch preparations until they solve a problem with ground support equipment, officials said Thursday morning.

Just before 2 a.m. Wednesday, with less than 10 minutes before the rocket was scheduled to lift off, ground controllers spotted a glitch before transitioning the Taurus to internal power. A launch window of just 47 seconds — essentially just one shot a day — left no time for the launch team to troubleshoot the problem and proceed with blastoff.

“We had an indication that a ‘hold-fire’ command was sent when indeed it had not,” said Omar Baez, NASA launch director. The commands originated from the Vehicle Interface Control Console in the mobile launch support van stationed a few miles from the launch pad. The problem has not yet been isolated, and troubleshooting continues, officials said Thursday.

The cold winter storm headed to the Central Coast also has crews taking precautions to ensure that Taurus and the Glory satellite remain healthy…

NASA's Glory satellite, in a rendering from 2008

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