New Weather Satellite Launch Aborted After Rocket Issues Detected, Rescheduled for Wednesday

Pam Wright
Published: November 14, 2017

United Launch Alliance has rescheduled the launch of a next-generation weather satellite for Wednesday after a rocket issue prevented a planned liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday morning, NASA says.

According to NASA, the launch was aborted just minutes before liftoff after scientists detected a bad reading on the first stage of satellite's United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Boats located in the safety zone also forced the scrub, NASA officials said.

The launch is rescheduled for 4:47 ET Wednesday at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Once in orbit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Joint Polar Satellite System-1 will circle the globe from pole-to-pole 14 times a day and send back data that will help meteorologists make forecasts, according to the National Weather Service. In fact, 85 percent of the data used for weather forecast models come from polar-orbiting satellites similar to the JPSS-1.

The spacecraft also has the capacity to study long-term climate trends by extending the current 30-year satellite data record, according to a 2016 release. 

Jon Erdman,'s senior meteorologist, says the state-of-the-art satellite, which will be renamed NOAA-20 once in orbit, will send imagery that isn't "what you typically see on a weather website or TV weather segment."

"These so-called polar-orbiting satellites collect data that is essential to gain a picture of the current state of weather around the globe, including over parts of the world where data is lacking," Erdman said. "Satellites like JPSS-1 are an essential foundation for global weather forecasts and for general monitoring of the planet."

(MORE: First New Weather Satellite of Trump Era Launches Next Month; It'll Track Climate Change Too, But That's Not Being Touted)

The JPSS-1 will also provide scientists with observations during severe weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards that will help improve forecasting, particularly in the three-to-seven-day window ahead of a severe weather event.

Using five advanced instruments, the satellite – the first of four planned JPSS satellites – will measure atmospheric temperature, moisture and rainfall, according to

In addition, the JPSS-1 can monitor the status of Arctic sea ice and the ozone hole hovering over Antarctica, two major indicators of global warming, Scientific American reports. 

"The reason why there is so much cross-agency support and international support for these missions is because the total amount of diverse and irreplaceable data enables so much more science to be done, it's not just weather forecasts, it's not just climate, but it's all sorts of small-scale meteorology, large-scale deforestation, tracking pollution, tracking smoke fields, tracking ash where there is a volcano," NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies director and climatologist Gavin Schmidt told Scientific American.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

Featured Blogs

Meteorology of Saturday's Colombian Flood Disaster That Killed 254

By Dr. Jeff Masters
April 3, 2017

At least 254 people were killed in the in the city of Mocoa (population 40,000) in southwest Colombia near the border of Ecuador early Saturday, when torrential rains triggered a debris flow on a nearby mountain that surged into the town as a huge wall of water carrying tons of mud and debris. The disaster is the fourth deadliest weather-related disaster in Colombia’s recorded history.

Iconic American Destination Virtually Isolated for Rest of Year

By Christopher C. Burt
March 24, 2017

Half of the village of Big Sur, on the coast of central California, has lost its only access to the north following the demolition of the flood-damaged Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge along State Route 1 (also Rt. 1 or SR 1) on March 19. Although Rt. 1 to the south of Big Sur has reopened to traffic (after mud and rock slides were cleared) it is a long 70-mile journey along the windy but spectacular highway to Cambria, the next town of any significance where supplies can be had. CalTrans (California Department of Transportation) estimates it will take 6-9 months to rebuild a new bridge over the canyon.

An extraordinary meteorological event; was one of its results a 1000-year flood?

By Stu Ostro
October 5, 2015

The confluence of meteorological ingredients the first weekend in October 2015 resulted in an extraordinary weather event with severe impacts. Was one of them a 1000-year flood?

Why the Arrest of a Science-Loving 14-year-old Matters

By Shaun Tanner
September 16, 2015

By now, many of you have heard or read about the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old high school student from Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested because school officials called the police after he showed one of his teachers his homemade clock. Mistaken for a bomb, Ahmed was taken into custody, interrogated, shamed, suspended (still on suspension today, Wednesday), and reprimanded. All of this after it has been found that the "device" he brought to school was indeed, a homemade clock.