VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — Minutes before takeoff, the launch of a satellite designed to study the aurora borealis was called off Sunday after mission control detected a data problem.
The launch of the Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer by a Pegasus XL rocket was postponed at least 48 hours, a NASA spokesman said.
The winged rocket had been carried over the Pacific Ocean by a modified L-1011 jet and was about 12 minutes away from launch when controllers detected "dropouts" in data transmitted from the satellite. It was not immediately known whether the problem was in the satellite or in data links through the aircraft.
The satellite is designed to provide space-based observations of the electromagnetic phenomena known as the Northern Lights.