Steering problem on rocket delays launch

Steering problem on rocket delays launch


A faulty steering system on a Delta 2 rocket engine prompted a three-day delay for a mission to launch a NASA satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, officials said Thursday.

Today’s launch attempt was canceled late Wednesday night and by Thursday night, officials decided the next try would be Monday.

“During final systems checks of the Delta 2 rocket Wednesday in preparation for flight, an anomaly in the motion of a booster steering engine was detected,” NASA officials said. “In order to give engineers the additional time required to troubleshoot the issue, the scheduled ... launch attempt was delayed a minimum of

24 hours.”

After multiple meetings Thursday, mission managers decided to bypass Saturday and Sunday attempts and target Monday, officials announced Thursday night.

“Mission managers have implemented a plan to completely resolve the anomaly,” officials announced Thursday night.

Crews are scheduled to remove and replace the suspect component today.

The rocket, with the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite, or WISE, is set to blast off from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch window will extend from 6:09:33 to

6:23:51 a.m. 

Even without the technical troubles, rainy weather was on track to doom launch attempts through the weekend.

But Monday’s weather should be much better, with military forecasters giving just a 20-percent likelihood that conditions will force a scrub.

During the satellite’s

$320 million mission, WISE will map the sky with a sophisticated telescope that astronomers expect will show hundreds of millions of celestial objects, many never seen with such a high-quality camera.

Complicating the countdown for mission managers is that WISE requires a super-chilled instrument to do its job. Once that cooling system is unplugged, the team has two days to get the rocket and its cargo off the ground. After that, the team would have to stand down for two days so the instrument could be chilled again, officials said.


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