Saturday, December 05, 2009

Weather Improves For Delta IV 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.

A Delta IV rocket is gassed up and ready to go at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station tonight as countdown clocks tick toward what should be a spectacular night launch here on Florida's Space Coast.

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 has improved significantly. There is a 70 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for launch. Thick, electrically charged clouds have moved out of the area and ground winds are expected to be within limits. The one concern is for a strong wind sheer at 15,000 feet.

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.

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