First stage booster issue delays Delta IV rocket launch
Launch delayed at least six days, company says
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A concern with a Delta IV rocket engine has pushed back United Launch Alliance's planned Wednesday evening launch of a military communications satellite by at least six days, to no earlier than March 14, according to News 6 partner FLORIDA TODAY.
"This additional time will allow the ULA team to ensure all systems are operating nominally prior to launch," ULA said in a statement Saturday. "A new launch date will be released once it is established."
The company said a "first stage booster issue" was discovered during standard pre-launch inspections at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 37.
The commander of the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center later confirmed on Twitter that teams were working to resolve an engine issue. Aerojet Rocketdyne provides the rocket's RS-68A main engine, which will be supplemented by four Orbital ATK solid rocket motors.
The 217-foot Delta IV is being prepared to launch the Air Force's ninth Wideband Global Satcom satellite, or WGS-9.
The Boeing-built spacecraft will add to the military's highest-capacity space communications network, operating in geosynchronous orbits 22,300 miles above the equator.
The $424 million satellite was paid for by Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and New Zealand, under a 2012 agreement giving the international partners proportional access to the WGS network.
ULA on March 1 delivered a classified U.S. intelligence mission to orbit from California on an Atlas V rocket, and plans to launch another Atlas V carrying International Space Station supplies from Cape Canaveral late on March 19.
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