Friday, June 26, 2009
In a bit of irony, the launch of an enhanced, multi-telescope weather satellite was delayed 24 hours this evening due to severe weather at and around its launch pad here at Cape Canaveral.
As the United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket was fueled and proceeded through the countdown with no issues, the heating of the atmosphere over central Florida and the Space Coast saw the development of anvil clouds which can and did produce thunderstorms and lightning.
As the countdown entered the final hold at T-5 minutes at 5:54 pm EDT, the launch team was "red" only for lightning and rain storms within the allowable distance from the pad. And so, the launch team waited out the storms, even setting a new launch time of 6:44 pm when the storms continued to develop. But the launch was not to be and the team scrubbed for the day at 7:00 pm tonight.
So for now, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have rescheduled the launch of the Delta IV for Saturday evening at 6:14 pm EDT. The launch window is one hour.
Thunderstorms are also forecast to develop late afternoon tomorrow, too, and the Air Force Meteorology Group is calling for a 40% "GO" for favorable weather. ULA also stated that if a second launch scrub occurs, then the launch team will stand down on Sunday and try to fly on Monday.
The GOES-O, once launched, will "live" in a parking orbit near the GOES-N satellite as on-orbit spares. With the current two GOES weather satellites delivering detailed images each half hour, their fuel is running low and may only have another year or so of life. When this happens, GOES N & O will replace and begin providing higher detailed images; and use their telescopes to forecast solar flare activities and their effect on the earth. (Images via NASA/KSC)