Friday, December 04, 2009

Second Delta Launch Try Despite Rainy Forecast

The Air Force and United Launch Alliance aim to make a second attempt to launch a Delta IV rocket tonight but rainy weather and a technical problem could trigger another delay before noon.

The 217-foot-tall rocket and its payload -- a military communications satellite -- are scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:22 p.m. The launch window would extend until 8:45 p.m.

The weather forecast, however, is dismal. There is an 80 percent chance rain showers and electrically charged clouds could force a delay. "It’s not shaping up to be a pretty day,” Air Force Launch Weather Officer Joel Tumbiolo told launch managers in a briefing late Thursday.

Engineers also must sort out a ground launch control system glitch that ultimately forced the scrub of an initial launch attempt Thursday.

The Delta IV had been set to launch at 7:22 p.m. Thursday by stiff high-altitude winds and thick electrically charged clouds kept a countdown on hold. The launch control system glitch came as the close of the launch window Thursday approached.

Mission managers will meet early today to decide whether to proceed with the attempt tonight. The weather improves slightly for Saturday, but rainy weather might not clear until Sunday.

The Delta IV will carry the third in a series of advanced Air Force communications satellites called Widefield Global SATCOM spacecraft. The 13,000-pound satellite will serve U.S. and allied troops on missions around the world, including those now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny, here at the Space Center word is that the next attempt will be Dec 5th.