Monday, November 09, 2009

Live At The Cape: High Winds Delay Delta Launch

The planned Nov. 19 launch of a Delta IV rocket and a military communications satellite is being delayed because high winds at Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 37 prevented the mating of the spacecraft to the launch vehicle.

Strict weather rules prohibit crane operators from lifting spacecraft and then carrying out a mating operations when winds exceed 20 knots. Winds Sunday and Monday were above that limit, and meteorologists do not expect a significant change in conditions on Tuesday.

The Delta IV's payload -- a Wideband Global SATCOM system spacecraft -- now is being trucked back to the Astrotech processing facility in south Titusville so its batteries can be recharged. Its return to Launch Complex 37 will be dictated by the winds, which were forecast to be 18 knots with gusts to 24 knots today.

Winds on Thursday are expected to be in the low- to mid-30s, so Air Force and United Launch Alliance officials are not certain the move back to the pad will take place.

A new launch date probably won't be established until the spacecraft is returned to the pad. A late November launch is still a possibility.

The Delta IV-WGS mission is the last mission scheduled on the Eastern Range this year. The range provides tracking, range safety and weather forecasting services for all launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

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