Thursday, January 20, 2011

ULA set for historic West Coast launch

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy today is poised to become the largest rocket ever to blast off from the West Coast.

Launch of a National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite into a polar orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is set for 4:10 p.m. EST (time updated).

A mobile service tower covering the 235-foot rocket was rolled back early this morning at Space Launch Complex-6.

The weather forecast is excellent, with a 90 percent chance of favorable conditions for launch.

Click here to watch a webcast of the launch scheduled to start 25 minutes before liftoff, at 3:45 p.m. EST.

About 50 ULA personnel from Cape Canaveral are supporting the Vandenberg launch, the first from SLC-6 since November 2006. Once intended to support shuttles, the pad underwent a $50-million renovation to support Delta IV Heavy missions.

The rocket will blast off with nearly 2 million pounds of thrust, making it the second-most powerful liquid-fueled U.S. rocket after the shuttle.

An Atlas V is scheduled to make ULA's first Cape launch of the year on March 4, followed by a Delta IV on March 11.

IMAGES: At top, with the Moon beaming above, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy sits poised on its launch pad with a National Reconnaissance Office payload at Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex-6. Credit: Pat Corkery, ULA. Below, mission art courtesy of ULA.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bill Powell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.