After several weeks of delays due to equipment glitches and bad weather, the United Launch Alliance will launch the most powerful rockets from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Put a classified spy satellite on the national reconnaissance office. This mission is ready to fly for a month after the first launch attempt of the rocket, which was interrupted 3 seconds before the rocket launched.
The rocket on the mission of ULA is the Delta IV Heavy, a massive vehicle consisting of three rocket cores tied together to provide additional thrust. It’s one of the most powerful rockets in the world, although it doesn’t fall short of the power contained in SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. ULA doesn’t fly Delta IV Heavy as often because it’s an expensive vehicle, but the company uses rockets on large, heavy satellites heading into super orbit.
The rocket’s payload is NROL-44, and, like all NRO missions, its purpose is kept secret. Office simply notes “NROL-44 supports the NRO’s overall national security mission, providing intelligence data to senior US policy makers, the intelligence community, and the Department of Defense.” ULA has already launched 29 missions for the NRO, many of which required Delta IV Heavy.
ULA is ready to release the NROL-44 on the morning of August 29th. ULA counted to a few seconds just before takeoff as the Delta IV Heavy’s main engine ignited briefly. However, the engine quickly shut off and the rocket remained fixed on the launch pad. ULA later found out that ground equipment had failed and called for a halt. The company took weeks to replace defective equipment.
The launch time was again delayed due to further issues with the launch pad equipment, but ULA expects to launch this week. Unfortunately, the bad weather has exacerbated the delay in attempts on Mondays and Tuesdays. But finally there is a 70% chance that the weather will cooperate for the launch tonight. Perhaps today is the day.
The Delta IV Heavy is set to take off Tuesday at 11:54 PM from ULA’s launch point at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base. ULA Start a blog It starts at 3:15 PM (ET) and the webcast starts at 11:34 AM (ET).
September 30th 3:00 PM ET update: This post was updated from a previous post after several release delays.