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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 10:23 am | Fair 58º


Delta IV Heavy Rocket Launch Attempt Aborted at Vandenberg Air Force Base

Nearly last-second discovery of technical glitch delays mission for second night in a row; no new launch date yet

Rocket launch pad
A Delta IV Heavy rocket sits at Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex-6, awaiting blastoff for delivery of a National Reconnaissance Office payload to orbit. (United Launch Alliance photo)

For the second night in a row, technical troubles have forced the Delta IV Heavy team to scrub a launch attempt at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Seven seconds before blastoff at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, a problem detected by the “terminal countdown sequencer rack” prompted a team member to call for a hold, aborting the planned launch.

A short time later, United Launch Alliance representatives confirmed the team had ended the countdown and began chores to safe the 233-foot-tall rocket at Space Launch Complex-6 on South Base.

“The team is currently reviewing all data and will determine the path forward,” ULA representatives said. “A new launch date will be provided when available.”

ULA officials remained mum Sunday about a new launch date and no new mariners' notices have been issued. 

Presumably, the team did not have time to assess the problem and fix it if needed before Saturday’s launch opportunity expired.

Rocket launches typically have a limited time to get off the ground each day so their payloads can be placed where needed in space.

Since the Delta IV Heavy will carry a top-secret payload to space for the National Reconnaissance Office, the actual launch window remains top secret but likely spans less than an hour.

Saturday’s countdown initially aimed for an 8:06 p.m. launch but the team needed time to troubleshoot an unidentified issue earlier Saturday, prompting mission managers to establish a different launch time.

The scrubbed launch attempt was the second delay of the week. Approximately three hours before the planned blastoff Friday night, a glitch involving a redundant communication link between the control center and the launch site forced the first scrub.

Vandenberg began the week with a Falcon 9 rocket launch of 64 spacecraft from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base.

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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