Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Delta IV, WGS-4 on track for Thursday launch

A Delta IV rocket remains on track to loft a military communications satellite into orbit at 7:38 p.m. Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The latest forecast is near perfect, with a 95 percent chance of favorable conditions during a launch window that extends to 9:11 p.m.

After a cold front passes through the region late this afternoon and evening, there's only a slight concern that ground winds could become an issue during the countdown.

United Launch Alliance says the 218-foot Delta IV, in a medium configuration with four strap-on solid rocket motors, is ready for launch.

Atop the rocket is one of the Department of Defense's highest-capacity communications satellites, the fourth in the Wideband Global SATCOM program, or WGS.

Around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, a mobile service tower at Launch Complex 37 will roll back to reveal the Delta IV. Fueling of the rocket's first and second stages with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen should begin less than five hours before launch.

ULA will begin a launch Webcast at approximately 7:17 p.m. EST Thursday. Click here to watch. We'll also send countdown updates by text -- sign up here.

The $464 million WGS-4 satellite is scheduled to separate from the rocket's upper stage nearly 41 minutes after launch.

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