Friday, March 11, 2011

Delta IV set for 5:57 PM launch

A Delta IV rocket was unveiled this morning for a planned 5:57 p.m. blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Atop the 21-story United Launch Alliance rocket is classified National Reconnaissance Office satellite dubbed "Gryphon" -- the fourth NRO mission launched since last September.

The latest forecast from the Air Force's 45th Space Wing continues to show a 90 percent chance of favorable conditions for launch today and into the weekend.

At Launch Complex 37, a 330-foot-tall service tower was rolled back from the rocket after 3 a.m.

The countdown was scheduled to pick up just before 9 a.m. and feuling operations begin about three hours later.

The two-stage, liquid-hydrogen and liquid-oxygen fueled rocket will be the seventh launch of a Delta IV "medium+" featuring a single common core booster first stage supported by two solid rocket motors.

We'll have live coverage of the countdown here starting around 3 p.m. and a ULA Webcast starting 25 minutes before liftoff. The broadcast will end 4.5 minutes into flight.

IMAGE: A United Launch Alliance Delta IV sits poised on its launch pad with a National Reconnaissance Office payload at Launch Complex-37. Photo by Pat Corkery, ULA.

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