Storm stalls radiation study launch

22:39, Aug 26 2012
Nasa rocket
DELAYED: The Nasa rocket to carry radiation belt storm probes into space is next scheduled to launch Thursday.

Nasa's effort to launch a pair of satellites to Earth's radiation belts is delayed until late this week because of tropical storm Isaac.

The countdown was halted at the four-minute mark on Saturday — for the second time in as many days.

Thunderstorms prevented the unmanned rocket from blasting off with Nasa's Radiation Belt Storm Probes.

On Friday, a tracking beacon on the rocket held up the flight.

Nasa initially said it would try again Sunday, but with Isaac bearing toward Florida, launch managers decided to move the Atlas V rocket back into its hangar and sit tight until the storm passed. They're now aiming for a Thursday launch.

The twin satellites are designed to study Earth's harsh radiation belts.

Scientists say the two-year, US$686 million mission will improve space forecasting; the goal is to better guard against solar storms.

Spacecraft can be damaged, and astronauts hurt, from severe solar outbursts. Life here on the planet also can be disrupted.