Delta IV has picture perfect launch from Cape Canaveral

Rocket carries spy satellite into space

Delta IV launch
Delta IV launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A lingering weather system is expected to produce more storms Saturday along the Space Coast, but launch teams were able to beat the odds and launch a classified spy satellite from Cape Canaveral.

Air Force meteorologists now predict a 40 percent chance of favorable weather -- down from 60 percent -- for the targeted 1:51 p.m. liftoff from Launch Complex 37, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

"Showers and thunderstorms are still likely along the trough," reads the 45th Weather Squadron's forecast. "Also, anvils from inland thunderstorms will migrate toward the Space Coast."

The good news: The National Reconnaissance Office mission has a long launch window.

Although not officially disclosed, Thursday's window lasted four hours before poor weather finally scrubbed the mission's first launch attempt.

The mission labeled NROL-37 is speculated to be delivering a heavy eavesdropping satellite to an orbit more than 22,000 miles over the equator.

United Launch Alliance's heavy-lift Delta IV rocket is the most powerful rocket flying today, generating more than 2 million pounds of thrust at liftoff with its three first-stage boosters.

If there is no launch Saturday, ULA and the Air Force have not said when a third launch attempt would be made, but weather is expected to improve Sunday and Monday.

Launch details:

Mission: Classified for National Reconnaissance Office (NROL-37)

Rocket: United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy

Launch Time: 1:51 p.m. Saturday

Launch Window: Not disclosed

Launch Complex: 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Weather: 40 percent "go"