The sixth and final satellite in the U.S. military’s network of ultra-secure, nuclear-hardened AEHF communications relay stations has arrived in Florida for final preparations for liftoff in March on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, the first of nearly 20 U.S. Space Force missions planned for launch in the first year of operations for the new military service.
After assessing any damage to the spaceport caused by Hurricane Dorian as it narrowly missed Florida’s east coast, NASA says the Kennedy Space Center will reopen for normal operations Friday. Teams rolled the Space Launch System’s mobile launch platform from pad 39B back into the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building last week for safekeeping during the storm.
NASA civil servants and the agency’s contractor work force are bracing for high winds and rain from Hurricane Dorian, securing rocket stages, spacecraft assembly areas and even hauling a 6.7-million-pound mobile launch tower, designed for the huge rocket being built for the Artemis moon program, back to the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building for safekeeping.
United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4-Heavy rocket lifted off at 11:10 a.m. PST (2:10 p.m. EST; 1910 GMT) Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, after a month-long delay to troubleshoot a hydrogen leak in one of its boosters. The heavy-lifter was on a mission to send a U.S. government spy satellite into orbit.
The first of up to seven missions planned on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas and Delta rocket fleets this year is scheduled for Saturday from California’s Central Coast, when a Delta 4-Heavy is set for blastoff on a spy satellite delivery flight delayed a month to troubleshoot a hydrogen fuel leak in a booster.