Just Prior to Liftoff, the Last Delta IV Heavy Rocket Launch was Halted

Just Prior to Liftoff, the Last Delta IV Heavy Rocket Launch was Halted

An glitch with the gaseous nitrogen pipeline has caused the launch of the Delta IV Heavy rocket to be postponed to Friday, March 29, at 1:37 p.m. EDT. The United Launch Alliance’s complete statement is as follows:

“The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-70 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office was scrubbed due to an issue with the gaseous nitrogen pipeline which provides pneumatic pressure to the launch vehicle systems. The team initiated operations to secure the vehicle. The launch is now planned for Fri., March 29 at 1:37 p.m. EDT.”

On March 29 at 1:37 p.m. ET (5:37 p.m. GMT), the United Launch Alliance (ULA) will launch its final Delta rocket on a classified mission for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). You can watch the launch live right here.

The launch will bring the 64-year history of the Delta rocket fleet, which was built to send heavy payloads into orbit, to an end. Launching one final time from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, the 16th Delta IV Heavy rocket since 2004 will be carrying a secret cargo.

Although the payload being launched into space by the ULA is unknown, it most likely consists of a highly developed satellite. The NRO, an organization under the U.S. Department of Defense, is in charge of developing and managing surveillance satellites. It is not always clear to the public what its reconnaissance systems are used for or why they are used.

All that is known about the present mission is that it is called NROL-70, and you may watch a live webcast from ULA to find out when it is due to lift off.

“The NROL-70 mission will strengthen the NRO’s ability to provide a wide-range of timely intelligence information to national decision makers, warfighters, and intelligence analysts to protect the nation’s vital interests and support humanitarian efforts worldwide,” representatives of the ULA wrote in a mission statement.

Related: In preparation for sending humans to the moon, China plans to launch massive, reusable rockets next year.

Due to poor conditions caused by cumulus clouds and ground winds, it is unclear if the Delta rocket will actually launch at the previously reported time. Delays have already occurred. According to Spaceflight Now, the 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 30% possibility of settled weather for launch on Thursday and a 60% chance of favorable circumstances on Friday (March 29).

During a news conference, ULA president and CEO Tory Bruno stated that ground winds are particularly worrying since there’s a chance the rocket would be driven back against the launch tower.

“It depends on the angle of the wind,” Bruno said. “We can launch through a pretty narrow moment in time. So, if the winds calm down, even for just a few minutes… then we’ll launch through that opportunity.”

Not only is the Delta IV Heavy rocket nearing the end of its operational life, but ULA also intends to retire the Atlas V rocket.

Sanchita Patil

error: Content is protected !!