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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 4:44 am | Fair 42º

 
 
 
 

Atlas V Rocket, WorldView-4 Satellite Targeting Friday Blastoff

Delayed by booster problems and wildland fires, mission now ready to fly from Vandenberg Air Force Base

In preparation for liftoff from Space Launch Complex-3, the Mobile Service Tower is rolled 250 feet east of the Atlas V rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in September. Launch is now scheduled for Friday. Click to view larger
In preparation for liftoff from Space Launch Complex-3, the Mobile Service Tower is rolled 250 feet east of the Atlas V rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base in September. Launch is now scheduled for Friday.  (Courtesy of ULA and Lockheed Martin / Jeff Spotts)

After an eight-week delay, an Atlas V rocket is on track for its Veterans Day departure from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Liftoff of the United Launch Alliance rocket carrying WorldView-4 and seven CubeSats from Space Launch Complex-3 on South Base is set for 10:30 a.m. Friday. The launch window, determined by where a rocket's cargo needs to be placed in space, is open until 10:46 a.m.

The mission has been grounded since Sept. 18 due to the Canyon Fire, which sparked Sept. 17 and charred 12,500 acres, damaging utility poles and communication equipment.

“Team V is thrilled to be launching again following the devastating wildfires we experienced in September,” said  Col. Chris Moss, 30th Space Wing commander and the launch decision authority for the mission. “We are excited to launch the Atlas V WorldView-4 mission from Vandenberg's Western Range and are looking forward to a safe and successful mission,"

Built by Lockheed Martin Corp. for DigitalGlobe, the WorldView-4 satellite will join sibling spacecraft in orbit to collect images for use by government, commercial and international customers.

This rocket first tried to get off the ground Sept. 16, before a faulty valve prompted mission managers to scrub the attempt.

After the Canyon Fire, the team initially aimed for a Nov. 6 blastoff, before rescheduling the liftoff for Friday so crews could fix what ULA officials called a “minor Atlas V booster issues.”

While Vandenberg has restricted access, several spots around Lompoc Valley offer good vantage points of the launch pad which is visible sitting south of Ocean Avenue (Highway 246).

The local community can view this launch from the Hawk's Nest on Highway 1 just a half mile south of Vandenberg’s main gate.

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 satellite, encapsulated inside a 4-meter payload fairing, is transported and mated to an Atlas V rocket earlier this year at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Click to view larger
DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 satellite, encapsulated inside a 4-meter payload fairing, is transported and mated to an Atlas V rocket earlier this year at Vandenberg Air Force Base.  (Courtesy of ULA and Lockheed Martin.)

Others gather near the intersection of Moonglow and Stardust roads to view rocket launches from South Base. 

The peak of Harris Grade Road is another popular spot for viewing Vandenberg launches.

For safety reasons related to the rocket launch, people will be evacuated from Jalama Beach County Park between 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday, Santa Barbara County Parks Department representatives said.

Vandenberg's Surf and Ocean beaches also are expected to close.

The 194-foot-tall Atlas V rocket will be the first of two planned this month, with the second set to fly from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Nov. 19, three days later to give technicians time to resolve a similar problems as the Vandenberg booster's. A weather satellite, the next Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, or GOES-R  is the cargo for the Florida mission.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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