Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Taurus XL countdown stopped; launch reset for Friday

The launch countdown of an Orbital Sciences Taurus rocket was stopped minutes before lift-off today due to a command issue to halt the launch if a true problem arose.

The Taurus XL was set to deliver a NASA atmospheric research satellite known as Glory into earth orbit from Vandenberg, AFB in California.

The count was stopped at 5:02 a.m. EST, at the T-7 minute, 41 second mark this morning due to the vehicle interface control console stating that the rocket was in a safe mode.

"A hold fire condition was noticed" at the T-12 minute point, "which basically means a safe condition was sent," assistant launch director Chuck Dovale said. He added that it was an external signal which said the rocket was in a safe configuration.

Dovale pointed out that when the issue arose, the launch team went to a back up computer but they received the same issue.

"We don't understand the problem at the moment," Dovale added, and that "trouble shooting is continuing" for the next few hours.

NASA has targeted launch for Friday at 5:09:43 a.m., once the launch team completes trouble shooting the source which placed the rocket in a safe mode.

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