The launch of a new US spy satellite on a massive Delta IV Heavy rocket has been postponed for at least a week after a last-minute abortion prevented an attempt to take off in early Saturday (August 29th).
The outage came just three seconds before the planned launch of the illegal NROL-44 satellite by the Air Force on Cape Canaveral at 3:28 a.m. EDT (0728 GMT), according to the United Launch Alliance, which built the heavy-duty Delta IV Heavy. The three-stage first stage of the rocket briefly ignited its three main engines, consuming the flame at the base of the booster before going into abortion.
“3, 2, 1
“And in standby mode, we’ve obviously stopped the hot fire,” Dylan said.
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A video from the launch pad shows the exhaust rising to the 235-foot (72-meter) rocket after the engines stopped.
“The launch of the Joint Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy, carrying out the NROL-44 mission for the National Intelligence Office, was cleared today due to an unexpected condition during the counting of terminals approximately three seconds before takeoff,” representatives of ULA, a collaboration of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, said in a statement. “Currently, the team is reviewing all the data and will determine the way forward. The time required for recycling before the next start-up attempt is a minimum of seven days. “
ULA President and CEO Tori Bruno said on Twitter that the Delta IV Heavy and its payload are in good shape.
“The bird is in good health,” Bruno wrote. “It was an automatic interruption during the ignition sequence. The cause seemed to be in the ground system. The system functioned to protect the vehicle and the payload.”
Delta IV Heavy’s NROL-44 satellite is a classified payload for the National Intelligence Service, which monitors U.S. spy operations. Its exact purpose and design are unknown.
The Delta IV Heavy is the ULA’s most powerful accelerator and can launch a payload of up to 62,540 pounds. (28,370 kilograms) to low Earth orbit and satellites up to 30,440 pounds. (13,810 kg) to geostationary orbit.
Interruption of the launch on Saturday is the second delay in the launch of the NROL-44 mission. The planned launch in early Thursday (August 27th) was postponed due to a problem with ground equipment at the launch site.
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