Saturday, December 05, 2009

Delta IV Rocket Scheduled To Launch Tonight

LIVE IMAGES: Refresh this page to see the latest still images from a live video feed at Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron's closed circuit weather channel.

Hanging on to hopes that rainy weather will clear in central Florida, the Air Force and United Launch Alliance aim to launch a Delta IV Medium rocket and a military communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station tonight.

The 217-foot-tall rocket and its payload -- a Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft -- are scheduled to blast off from Launch Complex 37 at 7:23 p.m. The launch window tonight will extend through 8:47 p.m.

The weather forecast for launch is iffy. There is a 60 percent chance of conditions that would prohibit launch. The chief concerns are high ground winds and the possibility that thick, electrically charged clouds still could be in the area during the launch window. A rocket flying through electrically charged clouds could trigger destructive bolts of lightning.

The spacecraft mounted atop the Delta IV is the third in a series of advanced Air Force communications satellites that will serve U.S. and allied troops on missions around the world, including those now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Retired Air Force Capt. John Kutz, a 57-year-old Titusville resident who now is the lead avionics engineer for United Launch Alliance, knows exactly how important communications satellites have become to American warfighters. Check out the story HERE.

The launch originally was set for Wednesday, but late Tuesday, managers pushed it back 24 hours as a result of an approaching storm system. Stiff upper level winds and thick clouds held up a countdown Thursday and then an electrical card in a ground launch control system failed as the end of the window approached that night.

The launch was rescheduled for Friday, but managers reset it for tonight to give engineers time to replace the faulty card and then install and test a spare.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the United Launch Alliance image of the Delta IV rocket set to blast off from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. You can also click on the enlarged image to see an even bigger, more detailed view. Photo Credit: Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance.

No comments: