Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coming Up Live: Delta II Tower Rollback At LC-17A

LIVE IMAGES: The images above are from live video feeds in the Launch Complex 17 area at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. They will automatically refresh to the most up-to-the-minute image every 30 seconds.

The Air Force's 1st Space Launch Squadron and United Launch Alliance are preparing to rollback the Mobile Service Tower at Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a move that will clear the way for an early morning rocket launch.

A Delta II rocket is scheduled to blast off from the complex at 6:35 a.m. Monday, hauling up an Air Force Navstar Global Positioning System satellite on a mission that will end a 20-year string of highly successful launches.

The launch window will extend through 6:49 a.m.

The giant gantry at complex 17A is expected to start moving away from the rocket sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and the tower should be fully retracted by about 9 p.m. You can check out the progress right here in The Flame Trench. The still images above are from live video feeds at the complex and they will refresh about once every 30 to 45 seconds.

Launch preps then will continue through the night and the terminal countdown is slated to pick up at 3:35 p.m. You can follow the terminal countdown here in The Flame Trench, and check out the countdown timeline charts on pages 14 and 15 of this Official Mission Booklet from United Launch Alliance.

The launch will be the 49th and final Delta II-GPS mission. Next-generation GPS satellites are wider and heavier and will be launched on larger Atlas V or Delta IV rockets.

Click here to read our front-page story about the End Of An Era. It features three longtime Delta II workers.

The weather forecast forecast for launch remains favorite. Despite three tropical storm systems -- Claudette in the Gulf of Mexico and Ana and Bill in the Atlantic, meteorologists say there is a 70 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for launch.

Check out all the details in this Official Forecast from the Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron. The wing provides tracking, range safety and weather forecasting services for all launches from Cape Canaveral and NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

The Air Force is asking mariners to steer clear of a launch hazard area off the coast of Cape Canaveral from 4:15 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.

Check out this Launch Hazard Area Map. Violators can be fined up to $250,000 and jailed for up to six months.

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