Thursday, December 03, 2009

Stiff Winds, Thick Clouds Thwart Launch Try

A Delta IV rocket is being rescheduled for launch Friday night after stiff winds and thick clouds conspired to keep the vehicle bolted to its Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pad tonight.

The 217-foot-tall rocket and its payload -- a military communications satellite -- now are slated to blast off from Launch Complex 37 at 7:22 p.m. Friday. The launch window will extend through 8:45 p.m.

The weather forecast, however, is near dismal. Air Force meteorologists say there is a 70 percent chance thick clouds and rain showers could keep the rocket grounded again.

An initial launch attempt Thursday was scrubbed as a result of both weather and technical problems. Stiff high-altitude winds prevented an on-time launch and then thick clouds swept into the area. An unidentified launch systems problem forced mission managers to call off the attempt as the launch window Thursday approached a close.

The Delta IV is to carry a Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft into an orbit 22,300 miles above Earth. From that perch, the military communications satellite will serve U.S. and allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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