Weather looking good for Delta 2 launch


VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — The weather outlook is 80 percent favorable for launch of the Delta 2 rocket early Thursday morning from California, with cloud thickness posing the only worry, meteorologists report.

At launch time, the forecast predicts mid- and high-level clouds, good visibility, light northeasterly winds and a temperature of 45-50 degrees F.

Mission officials will convene the Launch Readiness Review Tuesday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base to confirm all systems are set to enter into the countdown for Thursday’s liftoff.

The Launch Readiness Review will give the “go” to continue with the liftoff plans. Tuesday’s meeting examines the status of the Delta rocket, the SMAP spacecraft, the network of ground support and the weather forecast. The review culminates with official consensus to press ahead with countdown operations starting Wednesday afternoon.

After the LRR concludes, the pre-launch press conference is planned for 1 p.m. local (4 p.m. EST; 2100 GMT) with the NASA launch director, ULA’s program manager, SMAP officials and the weather officer.

The loading of storable propellants into the second stage was completed on Monday with the filling of hydrazine fuel. The oxidizer was loaded aboard on Friday.

Also Friday, the mission dress rehearsal was held for official personnel to practice the countdown and launch sequences.

“At this time, all pre-launch preparations are on schedule,” a NASA spokesman said Monday afternoon. “There are no significant issues being worked by the launch team.”