An advanced military communications satellite is a step closer to launch now that engineers have finished installing it in the nosecone of the rocket that will loft it into orbit.
The U.S. Air Force's fourth Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft is slated to launch Jan. 19 on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Medium rocket at Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch window that night will open at 7:38 p.m. and close at 9:11 p.m.
The spacecraft was encapsulated in the payload fairing of the Delta IV rocket Thursday at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville. It will provide secure military communications with U.S. troops as well as remote-control unmanned drones, which are used for intelligence-gathering, surveillance and other operations.
The first of the spacecraft was launched in October 2007. The second and third were launched April 2009 and December 2009.