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June 27, 2011

Weather problematic for Tuesday launch at Wallops

Preparations continue for Tuesday night's planned launch of a four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. But the forecast carries a 60 percent risk of showers and MARS spaceportthunderstorms during the evening launch window.

If weather or some other issues scrub the launch attempt Tuesday evening, they'll try again nightly through July 10, except for a three-day window around the planned launch of the shuttle Atlantis from Cape Canaveral, in Florida. That's still scheduled for July 8. NASA's Wallops tracking systems are needed for shuttle launches, which fly up the East Coast.

Forecasters say the storms are due ahead of a cold front that's expected to cross the region Tuesday. That will bring us cooler (low 80s) and drier weather for the balance of the workweek. If so, a delayed launch would have a better shot at liftoff starting Wednesday night.  The weekend looks headed for the 90s, with a return of showers and storms, as high pressure moves off the coast. 

Once skies are clear and the Minotaur launch goes ahead, the rocket's climb toward orbit with an Air Force ORS-1 battlefield imaging satellite aboard could be visible from North Carolina to Massachusetts, and as far west as West Virginia. Here's our weekend story on the project, in case you missed it.

If you're not at the beach this week, and you can't make the drive down to Wallops Island on Virginia's Eastern Shore (or even if you can), you can follow the launch preparations via Webcast, Twitter and various other media. Here, on the jump, are the specifics, which didn't make it into Saturday's print story. 

(PHOTO: Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport - MARS)

Launch status information

NASA Wallops: 757 824-2050

NASA Wallops Radio: 760 AM

Twitter: @NASA_wallops

Launch webcast (1:30 p.m.):

Posted by Frank Roylance at 11:47 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Sky Watching


After about a 1 hr hold at T minus 7 minutes, the Minotaur lifted off about 11:15 Wed. night, webcast live on NASA-TV. It was visible from my home near Towson, as a bright reddish light rising from the SE horizon. At about 10 degrees above horizon the light split in 2, presumably a first stage separation. The light continued to rise, then dimmed after 1 or 2 minutes.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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