Sunday, November 21, 2010

Countdown Picks Up For Tonight's Delta IV Heavy Launch

The countdown to a second attempt to launch a Delta IV Heavy rocket just picked up at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as engineers press ahead with plans to send a new national security satellite aloft.

The 23-story Delta IV and its payload -- a National Reconnaissance Office spacecraft-- is scheduled to blast off from Launch Complex 37 at 5:58 p.m. The end of the launch window is classified. But a danger zone off the coast will be reopened to mariners at 11 p.m. That likely means the end of the window is a couple of hours earlier than that.

The weather forecast calls for an 80 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for flight. That's down from 90 percent. Meteorologists say there is a chance of coastal showers and electrically charged clouds in the area during the launch window.

Propellant loading operations should begin in about a half-hour.

An initial launch attempt last Friday was scrubbed with unacceptable temperature readings were detected during the loading of supercold propellant. The problem was traced to faulty temperature sensors that have since been replaced.

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