The Joint Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy will launch the next payload to the National Intelligence Office from Cape Canaveral in August.
Update, September 28: Following the cleanup of SpaceX, the United Launch Alliance also announced that it will not be able to launch its Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral due to bad weather. The next attempt is scheduled for 11:58 p.m. Tuesday. See the latest startup schedule here.
Update, September 27: The launch of the Delta IV Heavy has been postponed again due to the rocking missile system in the launch complex 37. The teams are already heading for the lift shortly after midnight on Tuesday, September 29. SpaceX, meanwhile, chose to head to the previous day at 10:22 a.m. Monday for its next Starlink mission.
Update, September 26: This launch has been postponed again due to ongoing problems with the rocking system in the launch complex 37. The teams are already heading shortly after midnight on Monday, September 28. The next launches – two missions of SpaceX Falcon 9 – will also be delayed.
Update: This launch has been postponed 24 hours until the beginning of Sunday due to a problem with the rocking missile system in the launch complex 37. The launch is already scheduled for 12:10 pm On Sunday, September 27, and the story below is updated to reflect the shift.
Space Coast residents and visitors who may gather a second wind late Sunday will be scheduled for visual treatment when a rare United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket roars from its Air Force canopy at Cape Canaveral.
The tri-core, orange-and-white rocket is expected to slowly rise from launch complex 37 at 12:10 p.m. On Sunday, more than an hour’s window will open. Protected on top of the ULA’s most powerful vehicle, it is a satellite to gather intelligence on the secret National Intelligence Service.
“This is a very dramatic launch,” Tony Taljancic, director of ULA and general manager of launch operations, told FLORIDA TODAY in August. “I also call it a great start because it actually leaves the pad pretty slowly and poses for photos on the way out, so it’s pretty cool to watch.”
Unlike other missiles, the Delta IV Heavy more or less self-ignites just before launch, as excess hydrogen burns, creating a dramatic opening scene. Its three RS-68 engines will then produce more than 2.1 million pounds of thrust to push the NROL-44 satellite off the ground and head for a possible orbit thousands of miles above the Earth’s surface.
According to the latest forecast of the Space Forces, published on Thursday, the test time is 80% “gone”. The main concerns were possible clouds and storms caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Beta.
If there is cloud cover, but the ULA is still able to launch, spectators should be aware that the 235-foot rocket may disappear into the clouds shortly after takeoff. The trajectory of this mission will take her on a journey directly over the Atlantic Ocean.
The ULA had tried to launch this mission twice before, but technical problems with ground support equipment and a faulty pressure regulator forced the teams to rub. During the second attempt, the engines briefly started just three seconds before takeoff, but the computers detected a problem and automatically ordered a shutdown.
The last time the Delta IV Heavy launched from the Space Coast was in August 2018, a mission that accelerated NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to Venus for slingshot maneuvers and then to the sun to study its outer corona.
The ULA will eventually replace its fleet of Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V missiles with the Vulcan Centaur, which can also be tuned to a “heavy” configuration with six solid rocket engines and an extended upper stage. This rocket must take off from the launch complex of Cape 41 no earlier than 2021.
The launch week of the Delta IV Heavy sets the busy end of the month. SpaceX Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch more than a day later – 10:22 a.m. – Monday – from the nearby Kennedy Space Center with 60 Starlink Internet satellites. Then, if the schedules stick, another Falcon 9 will boost a satellite of the Global Space Forces positioning system from launch complex 40 at 9:55 p.m. on Tuesday.
Contact Emre Kelly at email@example.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly. Support his space journalism by subscribing to floridatoday.com/specialoffer/.
Launch on Sunday, September 27
- Rocket: United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy
- Mission: Classified satellite of the National Intelligence Service
- Start time: 12:10 p.m.
- Launch window: Until 1:35 in the morning
- Launch complex: 37 in the Air Force on Cape Canaveral
Join floridatoday.com/space starting at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday for a countdown chat and live video.
Launch on Monday, September 28
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: The 13th batch of Starlink internet satellites
- Start time: 10:22 h
- Launch Window: Instant
- Landing site: 39A at the Kennedy Space Center
- Landing: Drone
Join floridatoday.com/space, starting at 9 a.m. Monday, for a countdown chat and live video.
Launch on Tuesday, September 29
- Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- Mission: GPS satellite of the Air Force / Space Forces
- Start time: 21:55
- Start-up window: 15 minutes
- Launch complex: 40 in the Air Force on Cape Canaveral
- Landing: Drone
Join floridatoday.com/space, starting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, for a countdown chat and live video.
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