February 4, 2009

NASA scrubs weather satellite launch

The U.S. space agency scrubbed the launch of a weather satellite early Wednesday, just minutes before it was scheduled to lift off.

The launch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's NOAA-N Prime weather satellite was postponed when a launch pad gaseous nitrogen pressurization system failed, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said. The system maintains pressurization and purges to various systems of the Delta II rocket prior to launch.

NASA said the next launch attempt wasn't immediately scheduled but it will occur no earlier than 2:22 a.m. PST Thursday at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The NOAA-N Prime satellite, built for NASA by the Lockheed Martin Corp., is designed to improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world. It is the fifth and last in the current series of five polar-orbiting satellites with improved imaging and sounding capabilities.