The launch of an Earth-observing satellite has been delayed by NASA due to technical problems as well as unfavorable wind conditions over California. The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite, as it is called, was scheduled to be launched on Thursday from Vandenberg Air Force Base. However, upper-level winds exceeded limits for the Delta 2 rocket, which is carrying the satellite. The engineers are also working on a damaged insulation.
The launch has been rescheduled for Saturday morning. The satellite has been designed for tracking the soil moisture and this $916 million mission is under the management of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NASA stated “The launch of NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory has been delayed to a targeted launch date of Jan. 31, pending completion of minor repairs to the United Launch Alliance Delta II launch vehicle.” The space agency added “During inspections following the Jan. 29 launch attempt, minor ‘debonds’ to the booster insulation were identified; a standard repair is being implemented.”