Friday is new earliest date for rocket launch from Va. spaceport; software glitch causes delay - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Friday is new earliest date for rocket launch from Va. spaceport; software glitch causes delay

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- The first attempt to launch a rocket from the mid-Atlantic region's commercial spaceport has been delayed until at least Friday while experts work on a software glitch in the Air Force satellite that is its main payload, officials said Tuesday.

The problem with the software for the TacSat-2 satellite surfaced Sunday night, forcing Monday's scheduled launch to be scrubbed.

The satellite will test the military's ability to quickly transmit images of enemy targets to battlefield commanders.

"We're continuing to develop a fix for the software situation," Michael P. Kleiman, an Air Force spokesman, said Tuesday.

Without additional work, the software would have tilted solar panels on the satellite at a 45-degree angle, instead of having them face directly into the sun, so the satellite's batteries would not have charge properly in orbit. That would have left the satellite without enough power to run its systems and conduct experiments.

Scientists think they can fix the software with the satellite still on the 69-foot Minotaur I rocket, said Keith Koehler, spokesman for NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, where the spaceport's launch pad is located. If they have end up having to remove the satellite from the rocket to work on it, that would push the launch date into January.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, built in 1998, is one of only six federally licensed launch centers in the country. The Air Force will pay the spaceport $621,000 for the launch.
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