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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 4:23 am | Fair 39º


Delta IV Heavy Rocket’s New Launch Date Still Pending at Vandenberg AFB

A new launch date for the Delta IV Heavy rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base remains up in the air, but the highly anticipated blastoff is not expected this week.

The countdown during Saturday night’s launch attempt was aborted by a glitch approximately 7 seconds before the Delta IV Heavy rocket’s departure from Space Launch Complex-6 on South Base. 

“Hey launch fans! The team at NRO, United Launch Alliance, and the 30th Space Wing (Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.) continue to work through the steps necessary to establish a new launch date for #NROL71 following last week's scrub,” the National Reconnaissance Office posted Tuesday on Facebook. “We, along with our partners, will announce the new date once available, so check back with us often for updates and new launch details.”

The huge rocket will carry at top-secret payload for the National Reconnasisance Office, a mission dubbed NROL-71.

The Delta IV Heavy rocket, manufactured by United Launch Alliance, sits at Space Launch Complex-6 on South Base.

Several false dates have circulated on social media since the weekend.

In addition to a lack of confirmation that the launch had been rescheduled, many normal signs of a looming launch attempt, such as notices warning airmen and mariners to remain out of the area, also have been absent.

The team initially targeted a Dec. 7 launch but encountered technical troubles in the middle of the countdown. The problem was pinpointed to a redundant communication link between the control center and the launch site, but it was resolved in time to begin counting down for a possible Saturday launch.

On Saturday night, another problem prompted an abort of the countdown seconds before liftoff. ULA representatives blamed the problem on an unexpected condition detected in the final seconds before blastoff.

After a glitch that arises during the countdown, the team needs time to assess the problem and make any repairs, if needed. 

The latest delay falling seconds before blastoff likely added complexities to their post-scrub review.

The Delta IV Heavy employs three common booster cores, each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing a combined total of more than 2.1 million pounds of thrust, allowing the behemoth booster to carry some of the largest national security payloads into space.

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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