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Clouds and Boats Get Wallops Launch Repeatedly Scrubbed

Jun 30, 2014 11:51 AM EDT
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NASA has postponed their SubTec-6 rocket launch for the third consecutive time this week after boats wandered into the hazard zone during launch preparations. Poor weather has also marred the test schedule for new sub-orbital rocket technologies, which requires very specific "science conditions."

Nature World News previously reported how the Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket was to be launched this past weekend, testing harmless sub-payloads that would release unique vapor clouds at various heights.

These clouds, called "vapor tracers," will allow scientists to measure wind patterns starting at 68 miles above the Earth. NASA plans to use this technology to eventually track the winds in space for studies of the ionosphere.

The flight will also be testing a new and inexpensive attitude solution system and a mini deployment actuator for cubesat spacecraft - the spacecraft that will be used to put a digital scrapbook on Mars.

NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia cancelled lift-off three times now due to concerns for the safety of boaters who unknowingly wandered too far into the launch's "hazard zone."

The Wallops facility officials announced this latest mission delay on their Twitter and Facebook page between 4 and 5 a.m. EST, disappointing fans who were hoping to watch the launch in real-time via live streaming.

"We fully understand (and are also experiencing) the disappointment of not seeing the launch take place; however we must always take in account public safety, we greatly appreciate the marine traffic working with us, as we know and appreciate the importance of their work," Wallops public relations wrote.

Even with empty seas, Monday morning would not have been ideal flying conditions anyway, as early-morning clouds marred the skies around the launch zone. The mission will require clear skies in at least two locations for scientists to observe the vapor tracers without obstruction 220 seconds after lift-off.

The launch has been rescheduled for Tuesday, July 1 between 4 and 5 a.m.

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