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SMAP Launch on Delta II Rocket Delayed to Saturday Morning Now

Launch of NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission aboard Delta II rocket has been delayed fourth time since Thursday due to high winds and some repairs on debonds and is now scheduled for Saturday, Jan 31, at 9:20 am EST (6:20 am PST; 1420 GMT), said Anna Heiney of NASA in a blog post on the official website.

The forecast for Jan. 31 shows a 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch and coverage of the event live on NASA TV will begin at 7 am. Earlier, launch commit criteria weather remained 90 percent “go,” however upper level winds are “no-go.”

The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory onboard is seen as the mobile service tower is moved back to help workers service the rocket at Space Launch Complex 2, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory onboard is seen as the mobile service tower is moved back to help workers service the rocket at Space Launch Complex 2, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

United Launch Alliance, whose Delta II rockets are being used for the launch, said: “During inspections following the January 29 launch attempt, minor debonds to the booster insulation were identified. These insulation debonds are associated with cryogenic conditions experienced during tanking operations and a standard repair will be implemented”.

The SMAP observatory will produce the highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained from space and help forecast weather, floods, drought, crop yield and landslides.

During inspections following the Jan. 29 launch attempt, minor “debonds” to the booster insulation were identified; a standard repair is being implemented, said the mission team. During this final built-in hold, managers overseeing the launch will conduct final readiness polls and SMAP will be transferred to internal power.

A new launch attempt on Jan. 31 will be made at 9:20 a.m. EST and the liftoff will take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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