Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Forecast fine for year's first Cape launch

There's little chance weather will stall the first launch of 2012 from Cape Canaveral, a planned 7:38 p.m. EST Thursday blastoff of a Delta IV rocket carrying a next-generation military communications satellite.

The most recent forecast from the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron -- read it here -- shows only a 10 percent chance strong ground winds could become a factor during the window that extends to 9:11 p.m.

The odds of bad weather only worsen to 20 percent if the launch is delayed to Friday or Saturday.

United Launch Alliance reports everything is on track for an on-time liftoff of the 218-foot tall Delta IV Medium+ rocket carrying the Air Force's fourth Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft, or WGS-4.

The $464 million, 13,200-pound spacecraft is the fourth of its kind to launch, the first in a new block of Boeing-built vehicles that offer greater capacity than the first three.

Each WGS satellites offer 10 times more bandwidth than the entire constellation they are gradually replacing, improving support for warfighters and unmanned aerial vehicles. More background here.

Click here to read ULA's mission overview.

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