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launch scrubbed

A Delta II rocket sits on the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base early Tuesday morning, minutes before its scheduled launch was postponed.

A Delta II rocket launch that was scheduled for early Tuesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base was scrubbed at the last minute and postponed for at least 24 hours.

The United Launch Alliance rocket was slated to lift off from the base at 1:47 a.m. When that time came and passed, it was briefly delayed before ultimately being called off completely. Shortly after the postponement was revealed, Omar Baez Jr., a NASA senior launch director, confirmed that the plan was to retry the launch again at 1:47 a.m. Wednesday.

Tuesday's launch window, which will be the same on Wednesday, was just 66 seconds. 

Just minutes after the postponement, Baez Jr. said that there were issues with the rocket's first stage that couldn't be resolved within the roughly 1-minute window, so "a hold was called."

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The rocket is set to carry a small CubeSat — an advanced polar-orbiting environmental, or weather, satellite — into orbit as part of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1) mission, a collaborative effort between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The CubeSat is the first of four planned as part of the JPSS series.

Tuesday morning's delay was the second in a little more than a week for the planned launch, which had initially been scheduled for Nov. 10. NASA and VAFB officials announced on Nov. 6 that the launch would not occur on Nov. 10 due to a faulty battery.

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.