January 24, 2017

Favorable weather forecast for Wednesday’s Delta 4 launch from Florida

The Delta 4 will launch from Complex 37. Credit: ULA
The Delta 4 will launch from Complex 37. Credit: ULA

CAPE CANAVERAL — Air Force meteorologists are expecting good weather to launch the Delta 4 rocket with a military communications satellite Wednesday evening from Cape Canaveral.

Liftoff of the United Launch Alliance booster carrying the Wideband Global SATCOM 8 spacecraft is scheduled to occur at 6:53 p.m. EST (2353 GMT). The launch window will remain open for 49 minutes.

The chances of allowable weather stand at 80 percent, with only a slight concern for cloud thickness during the launch opportunity.

“An upper-level low over northwest Mexico is causing a surface low to develop over Texas. This system will move across eastern Texas Monday, and then Tuesday will increase in speed and move through Louisiana to Virginia, dragging a cold front into northern Florida. This weather will bring showers and possibly thunderstorms across the Space Coast Tuesday through the day,” forecasters at the 45th Weather Squadron say.

“The front will pass through Central Florida overnight Tuesday night and cause morning fog Wednesday morning as it moves to the south. Weather will improve Wednesday, and winds will be light from the northwest. With the upper-level support moving off to the northeast, there is a chance the front will stall just to the south. If this occurs, cloud cover will increase causing concern for thick cloud layers. Still, this will likely be more of a factor Thursday in the event of a 24-hour delay.”

The launch time conditions are expected to include a broken layer of cirrus clouds at 25,000 feet, good visibility, ground winds from the northwest at 8 knots, a relative humidity of 68 percent and a temperature of 69 degrees F.

The WGS 8 satellite will be the highest-capacity communications satellite ever fielded by the U.S. military. It features technological advancements in its internal electronics that nearly double the available bandwidth the craft will provide to soldiers, ships, aircraft and drones compared to earlier WGS satellites.

The Flight Readiness Review was passed last Wednesday and the Launch Readiness Review will occur on Tuesday. The final closeouts of vehicle compartments are underway ahead of the countdown starting Wednesday morning.

Here’s a look at some stats about the mission. This will be:


  • The 376th Delta rocket launch since 1960
  • The 34th Delta 4 rocket mission since 2002
  • The 6th Medium+ (5,4) configuration to fly
  • The 52nd main engine from RS-68 family used
  • The 10th RS-68A main engine flown
  • The 52nd-53rd-54th-55th GEM-60 solid rocket motors flown
  • The 475th production RL10 engine to be launched
  • The 37th RL10B-2 engine launched
  • The 28th Delta 4 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral
  • The 36th launch from Pad B at Complex 37
  • The 19th use of Delta 4 by the Air Force
  • The 101st Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle flight
  • The 114th United Launch Alliance mission since 2006
  • The 82nd ULA launch from Cape Canaveral
  • The 45th ULA launch for the Air Force
  • The 27th Delta 4 under the ULA banner
  • The 11th ULA launch this year
  • The 4th launch of the Delta family in 2016
  • The 8th Wideband Global SATCOM satellite
  • The 2nd Block 2-Follow On WGS satellite
  • The 6th WGS on Delta 4

See earlier Delta 376 coverage.

Our Delta archive.