After weeks of delays due to poor equipment and bad weather, the United Launch Alliance is set to launch its most powerful rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Raising a Classified Spy Satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. The mission is finally ready to fly a full month after the first rocket launch attempt, which was aborted just three seconds before the lift.
The rocket Delta Fourth Heavy is going on a ULA mission, a huge vehicle consisting of three rocket cores and assembled for extra emphasis. It is one of the most powerful rockets in the world, although it falls slightly short of pack power in SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. The ULA doesn’t fly the Delta IV very often, as it’s an expensive vehicle to build, but the company’s use of rockets for larger, heavier satellites leads to a much higher super rabit.
The rocket’s payload is NRL-44, and like all NRO missions, its purpose is hidden in secrecy. The office simply takes note “NRL-44N supports the NRO’s overall national security mission to provide intelligence to senior United States policymakers, the intelligence community and the Department of Defense.” The ULA has already launched 29 missions for the NRO, most of which require Delta IV Heavy.
The ULA was set to launch NRL-44 on the morning of August 29th. The ULA counted all the way a few seconds before the lift off, briefly igniting the Delta IV Heavy’s main engines. But the engines quickly shut down and the rocket landed on the launchpad. The ULA later learned that a piece of ground equipment had failed, prompting a halt. It took the company a few weeks to replace the faulty equipment.
Other equipment problems on the launchpad pushed back the start time, but the ULA is expected to land this week. Unfortunately the weather did not agree, with delays in efforts on Monday and Tuesday due to bad conditions. But in the end, there’s a 70 percent chance the weather will help tonight – so maybe today is the day.
Delta IV Heavy is scheduled to land at 11:54 a.m. Tuesday at ET’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station from ULA’s launch site. U.L.A. Launch Blog It will start at 3:15 pm ET, and its webcast will start at 11:34 pm ET, who is still awake and hoping to catch the midnight start.
Update September 30, 3:00 p.m. ET: This post has been updated from the previous post, following multiple launch delays.