TUESDAY UPDATE: NASA Wallops now says the Minotaur 1 launch will take place "no earlier than Friday." Stay tuned.
3PM MONDAY UPDATE: Minotaur 1 will launch no earlier than Thursday, and likely sometime well after that. Mission managers said this afternoon that, in addition the software error in the TacSat2 attitude control system revealed overnight, they have become concerned about a computer aboard the spacecraft. A duplicate computer in a TacSat simulator in New Mexico has been rebooting unexpectedly. Although the spacecraft's computer has not been acting up, engineers are worried enough to want to be sure before they fly.
An earlier post follows:
CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - Well, the weather cooperated, but the software didn't. This morning's Minotaur-1 launch from Wallops Island has been scrubbed.
I was up at 3:30 this morning, time enough to catch a bagel and drive over to the media center At NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. I had to be aboard a 5 a.m. press bus to the launch site. Never bothered to check the Wallops Web site. But then, I went to bed before they made their decision.
The assembled media were greeted by news that a software error on the Air Force's TacSat-2 satellite had forced a delay in this morning's planned 7 a.m. launch. We won't know until this afternoon whether we're looking at a two-day delay, or a two-week delay. Although Wednesday is the earliest day they think they could turn this around, the forecast for Wednesday isn't promising.
The problem was discovered by engineers at the TacSat control center at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico. They were reviewing the satellite's programming and discovered that it would be unable to point its solar arrays directly toward the sun after launch, robbing it of needed electrical power.
Now they have to figure out how long it will take to fix the faulty computer code, and when they can fit their launch back into the schedule of NASA work down here at Wallops.
Too bad. The weather looks great. Cold, clear starry skies. Just a few thin clouds here and there. This launch would have been visible for hundreds of miles. And I would have been 8,500 yards from the pad. Dang.