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Rocket Problem Further Delays Sunday Atlas V Rocket Launch Attempt

Crews expect to try for Nov. 11 departure of mission postponed by Canyon Fire at Vandenberg Air Force Base

In preparation for a liftoff attempt from Space Launch Complex-3, the Mobile Service Tower or MST is rolled 250 feet east of the Atlas V rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The team is now aiming for a Nov. 11 launch. Click to view larger
In preparation for a liftoff attempt from Space Launch Complex-3, the Mobile Service Tower or MST is rolled 250 feet east of the Atlas V rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The team is now aiming for a Nov. 11 launch. (Jeff Spotts / ULA and Lockheed Martin photo)

Troubles with an Atlas V rocket will delay this weekend’s planned launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Instead of Sunday, the next launch attempt for the rocket set to carry the WorldView-4 satellite will occur Nov. 11, rocket manufacturer United Launch Alliance said. 

“The team is actively working to resolve minor Atlas V booster issues discovered during final preparations for launch,” ULA representatives said. 

The Atlas V will launch from Space Launch Complex-3 on South Base. 

The launch window is 10:30 to 10:46 a.m., an hour earlier than the first attempt due to the switch from Daylight Saving Time this weekend when clocks will be set back one hour early Sunday.

The rocket’s departure originally had been planned for Sept. 16, but a faulty valve prompted mission managers to scrub the attempt with minutes left in the countdown.

Plans to try again Sept. 18 had to be scrapped because the Canyon Fire sparked on South Base the night before.

That 12,500-acre fire damaged launch support equipment, including electrical poles and communication cables, keeping the rocket and its cargo earthbound.

Officials said the rocket and its cargo remained safe and secure on SLC-3 during the wildland fire that burned within 1.5 miles of the launch pad. 

The team expected to try again Sunday, but the newest problem foiled those plans, pushing the mission to Veterans Day.

WorldView-4, a high-resolution commercial imaging satellite owned and operated by DigitalGlobe, will help assorted customers across the globe, company officials said, adding the spacecraft should begin generating revenue for the firm in early 2017.

“Importantly, WorldView-4 will substantially increase our ability to image the world with resolution, accuracy and clarity far beyond that of all other commercial providers, enabling us to better serve our international, defense and intelligence customers, and advance new commercial use cases,” Jeffrey Tarr, DigitalGlobe chief executive officer, said during quarterly earnings conference call Oct. 25 

ULA also launched WorldView-3 on Atlas V in 2014 from Vandenberg.

The WorldView-4 mission will marks ULA’s ninth launch of 2016 and 112th since the company was founded in 2006. 

In addition to the WorldView mission, ULA had another Atlas V rocket launch scheduled for November from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, to lift a weather satellite into orbit. The rocket will carry the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) mission for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

On Thursday, ULA officials said the same problem that delayed Vandenberg's launch is also affecting the Florida mission. 

"The team is actively working towards a resolution. A new launch date will be released once it is established," a ULA statement said.

GOES-R, which will be dubbed GOES-16 once it reaches orbit, is the first of four satellites to be launched for NOAA in a new and advanced series of spacecraft. The GOES craft will assist in various ways including providing short-term forecasts and severe storm watches and warnings, maritime forecasts, seasonal predictions, drought outlooks and space weather predictions.

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.

Crews prepare for the liftoff of the Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Click to view larger
Crews prepare for the liftoff of the Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.  (Jeff Spotts / ULA and Lockheed Martin photo)

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