The launch of NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) has been delayed 24-hours to give engineers time to verify whether or not an anomalous engine condition detected on another launch vehicle is present on the rocket that will launch the RBSP spacecraft later this week.
The twin RBSP spacecraft will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41. The 20-minute launch window opens at 4:07 a.m. EDT on Friday, August 24. Weather forecasts currently call for a 60% chance of favorable conditions expected at launch time.
The mission, part of NASA’s broader Living With A Star (LWS) Program, will explore the extremes of space weather and the effects it has on our planet, orbiting the Earth and studying the Van Allen Radiation Belts. By studying the Earth’s radiation belts the twin RBSP spacecraft will help scientists understand the Sun’s influence on Earth and Near-Earth space, knowledge that will undoubtedly prove vital to the success of future spacecraft and astronauts who will need to tolerate the constant bombardment of particles and radiation encountered on long-duration missions. Space weather can also dramatically disrupt our daily lives by disabling satellites, creating power-grid failures and disrupting GPS service. The RBSP mission aims to help in our understanding of the processes that cause extreme space weather in Earth’s space environment.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. built the twin RBSP spacecraft, and will manage and operate the mission for NASA.