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Glitches Force Team To Scrub Delta IV Launch Attempt at Vandenberg Air Force Base

Another try scheduled Friday afternoon for top-secret mission

The Delta IV rocket sits at Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air  Force Base on Thursday mroning awaiting liftoff for a National Reconnaissance Office mission. Click to view larger
The Delta IV rocket sits at Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Thursday mroning awaiting liftoff for a National Reconnaissance Office mission. (United Launch Alliance)

After a dramatic countdown that twice came less than 90 seconds from liftoff, a Delta IV rocket and its top-secret payload must wait until at least Friday before departing from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Liftoff now is planned from Space Launch Complex-6 at 1 p.m. Friday for the Delta IV rocket, built by United Launch  Alliance, and its National Reconnaissance Office spacecraft. 

The launch team planned for liftoff at 2 p.m., an hour late, after falling behind in their chores during the countdown.

Another problem arose less than 90 seconds before a planned 2:05 p.m. blastoff Thursday, leading the team to abort the attempt.

ULA officials blamed the first hold on a reading related to the swing arm system for the rocket. It wasn't clear whether the system failed or if it was a faulty reading from a monitoring equipment. 

They also handled a glitch blamed on the lengthy hold while awaiting the resolution of the swing arm system problem.

With problems resolved, the team targeted a 4:05 p.m. liftoff, but another problem cropped up leading a crew member to declare, "hold, hold, hold."

Hopes to get the rocket off the ground at 4:59 p.m., believed to be near the end of the window, were spoiled forcing the team to scrub Thursday's launch attempt.

ULA officials blamed the final problem on a faulty ground system valve.

Missions have set time periods for launch to make sure the payloads are put where needed in space. 

The weather forecast appears to be favorable for a Friday launch attempt, with just a 10 percent likelihood conditions will prevent liftoff, ULA officials said.

Check back to Noozhawk for updates to this story.

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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