Thursday, January 19, 2012

Delta IV being fueled for 7:38 p.m. liftoff

A 218-foot Delta IV rocket is being fueled for a 7:38 p.m. launch today of a military communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and everything appears on track for an on-time liftoff.

This morning, the 330-foot mobile service tower at Launch Complex 37 began rolling back from the rocket the length of a football field at 10:40 a.m.

Fueling of the rocket with supercold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen began around 2:30 p.m.

About 110,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and 40,000 gallons of liquid oxygen were being loaded in the first stage Common Booster Core.

Another 10,000 gallons of LH2 and 4,500 gallons of LOX will be pumped into the upper stage.

Atop the rocket is the Air Force's fourth Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft, which will significantly increase communications capacity for U.S. and allied troops.

Tonight's forecast is excellent, with a 95 percent chance of favorable weather. If any weather or technical problems come up, the window extends 93 minutes, to 9:11 p.m.

We'll pick up live countdown coverage starting at 5:30 p.m. Sign up for text message alerts here.

IMAGE: At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station today, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket stands ready for launch at Launch Complex-37 with the Air Force's Wideband Global SATCOM-4 satellite. Launch is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7:38 p.m. EST. Wideband Global SATCOM provides anytime, anywhere communication for the warfighter through broadcast, multicast and point to point connections. Photo by Pat Corkery, ULA.

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