Thursday, December 03, 2009

Countdown To Tonight's Delta Launch Under Way

The terminal countdown to the planned launch tonight of a Delta IV Medium rocket just picked up at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as engineers prepared to start loading propellants aboard the vehicle.

The United Launch Alliance rocket and its payload -- an advanced Air Force communications satellite -- are scheduled to blast off from Launch Complex 37 at 7:22 p.m. The launch window will extend until 8:43 p.m.

The forecast for launch is pretty good. A cold front swept through the area late last night and early today, bringing rain showers and thunderstorms with it. But the weather is clearing and the Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron issued a forecast today that calls for a 60 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for flight.

The weather is expected to degrade significantly tomorrow. There would only be a 30 percent chance of acceptable weather if the launch were to slip another day. The launch had been slated for Wednesday, but late Tuesday, managers decided to push the flight back 24 hours and wait for the cold front to pass.

Click HERE to see the detailed forecast put together by Launch Weather Officer Joel Tumbiolo

The launch will be the 36th for United Launch Alliance in the 36 months since Lockheed Martin and Boeing merged the Atlas V and Delta IV rocket families under a joint venture partnership. It will be the third launch of a Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft and the last launch of the year here on Florida's Space Coast.

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