Artist concept of QuikScat

Launch of NASA's new QuikScat spacecraft, an ocean-observing weather satellite, has been delayed at least 24 hours while engineers troubleshoot a possible telecommunications problem on the Titan II launch vehicle.

The spacecraft will be lofted into space from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base no earlier than Saturday, June 19 at 7:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. A 10-minute launch window closes at 7:25 p.m. PDT.

Engineers discovered noisy data from an inertial measurement unit onboard the Titan II launch vehicle during one of the final spacecraft system checkout tests on Tuesday, June 15. The additional time will allow them an opportunity to investigate the cause of the communications interference and replace electrical circuitry or other hardware units if necessary.

QuikScat will be launched over the Pacific Ocean in a south- southwesterly direction to achieve an orbit with an altitude of about 800 kilometers (500 miles) above Earth's surface. Using its scatterometer to bounce radar pulses off the ocean's surface, the spacecraft will provide new data on wind speed and direction, and significantly improve scientists' ability to forecast daily and longer-term weather.

Additional information on the launch is expected to be available late today. An audio status report on launch preparations is available by phone at (805) 734-2693.

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