January 20, 2019

Delta IV Heavy NROL-71 Scrub Statement

22 December 2018, 11:12 | Ross Houston

Watch Live: Rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base

Streak in sky

For now, ULA has not confirmed the reason for the scrub of the latest rocket launch.

We spoke with someone from Vandenberg Air Force Base who told us they can neither confirm or deny a rocket launch.

But by Thursday morning, the private space launch company announced it had delayed the mission again for a fifth time due to elevated hydrogen level within the port booster engine's section.

The rocket had been scheduled to launch at 5:44 p.m. from the military base in Santa Barbara County.

The Delta IV Heavy consists of three Delta IV rocket cores strapped together and topped with an upper stage.

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It's the fourth time the launch was postponed in the past two weeks.

Previous launches were also canceled seconds before liftoff due to technical issues.

When it is eventually launched, the Delta IV Heavy rocket will be carrying a secretive satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. Space enthusiasts speculated online that it is the first of a new generation of KH-11 electro-optical reconnaissance satellites. "As the nation's premiere launch provider, the teams have worked diligently to ensure continued mission success, delivering our customer's payloads to the precise orbits requested".

The NROL-17 launch had to be put off until December 30 at the earliest so that United Launch Alliance could address the Delta 4 Heavy rocket's accumulation of excess hydrogen.

ULA has carried out 27 launches for the National Reconnaissance Office over the past 12 years.

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