Gearing up for a predawn blastoff July 31, launch crews have positioned a Delta 4-Heavy rocket in the starting blocks on a seaside launch complex at Cape Canaveral as engineers inside a tightly-controlled clean room a few miles away put the final touches on a NASA probe that will travel closer to the sun than any mission before.
Engineers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center tasked with overseeing launches of scientific satellites and interplanetary probes will be responsible later this year for ensuring six major missions safely get into space over a span of a little more than six months, beginning with the launch of NOAA’s new GOES-S weather observatory on an Atlas 5 rocket March 1.
United Launch Alliance kicked off its 2018 launch campaign with a Delta 4 rocket flight at 2:11 p.m. PST (5:11 p.m. EST; 2211 GMT) Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Gusty winds forced officials to call off a launch attempt Wednesday, and technical problems halted a countdown Thursday multiple times. The Delta 4 launched with a top secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.
The launch of a top secret National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been pushed back from Dec. 13 until no earlier than Jan. 10 to complete software validation on the Delta 4 rocket’s new avionics system, United Launch Alliance announced Wednesday.