After several weeks of delays due to faulty equipment and bad weather, the United Launch Alliance is ready to launch its most powerful rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Lifting a classified spy satellite for the National Reassessment Office. The mission is finally ready a full month after the rocket’s first launch attempt, which was halted three seconds before the lift.
The Rocket Delta IV Heavy, ULA’s mission, is a giant vehicle that combines three rocket cores together to provide extra momentum. It is one of the most powerful rockets in the world, yet it reduces the power packed by SpaceX’s Balkan Heavy. The ULA Delta IV Heavy does not fly often because it is an expensive vehicle, but the company uses the rocket, which goes into very high orbits for larger, heavier satellites.
The rocket’s payload is NROL-44, and like all NRO passengers, its purpose is shrouded in secrecy. The office simply mentions “NROL-44 supports the NRO’s overall national security mission to provide intelligence data to senior U.S. policymakers, the intelligence community, and the Department of Defense.” The ULA has already introduced 29 passengers for the NRO, many of which require Delta IV Heavy.
ULA was ready to launch NRAOL-44 in the early hours of August 29th. By briefly igniting the main engines of the Delta IV Heavy, the ULA counted up to a few seconds to do the liftoff. But the engines stopped quickly and were fixed at the rocket launch site. ULA then learned that an underground equipment had failed, which triggered the abortion. It took the company a few weeks to replace the faulty equipment.
Further issues with the equipment on the launchpad pushed back the release time, but ULA hopes to get off the ground this week. Unfortunately the weather was not acceptable and bad conditions delayed efforts on Mondays and Tuesdays. But in the end, the weather has a 70 percent chance of launching tonight – so maybe today.
Delta IV Heavy is scheduled to take off from the ULA launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base at 11:54 PM ET on Tuesday. U.L.A. Start a blog 3:15 PM ET, and its webcast starts at 11:34 PM ET, for anyone who is still awake and hoping to catch a midnight start.
Update September 30, 3:00 PM and: After several publishing delays, this post has been updated from the old post.