Launch of ULA Delta Heavy rocket postponed to early Saturday

Liftoff now scheduled for 2:04 a.m. Saturday

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – United Launch Alliance has scheduled the second launch attempt of a national security satellite for Saturday at 2:04 a.m. to allow for more time to fix the grounds control system.

According to ULA CEO Tory Bruno, the issue is with the gas ground system involved in preparing the rocket for launch.

“We had anomalous data from this system last night that had to be thoroughly understood before proceeding to ignition. The time to do this took us past the launch window,” Bruno said in a tweet.

Weather is 80% favorable for the launch window.

***2:13 a.m. Aug. 27 UPDATE***

The launch was scrubbed due to an issue with a critical ground pneumatics control system, according to ULA.

ULA said the team needs additional time to evaluate and solve the issue.

Crews said the launch is now planned for 2:08 a.m. on Friday and the forecast shows an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch.

*** 1:24 a.m. Aug. 27 UPDATE***

ULA Launch Director Loui Mangieri announced crews will not continue with the launch of the Delta IV Heavy rocket for Thursday. Crews said another launch attempt will be possible in 24 hours.

*** 1 a.m. Aug. 27 UPDATE***

ULA said the pneumatics data review is continuing and crews will be holding off on resumption of countdown until the work is completed.

As of 12:25 a.m. crews were holding at T-minus 4 hours and 15 minutes.


United Launch Alliance will launch a U.S. national security mission using its Delta IV Heavy rocket, a treat for early risers because the heavy-lift rocket is a rare sight.

Liftoff, originally scheduled for early Wednesday, will take place at 2:12 a.m. Thursday.

The launch will take place from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The current forecast from the 45th Space Wing shows an 80% chance of favorable launch weather for the four-hour window.

Inside the rocket’s nose cone is a spacecraft known as NROL-44, a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office.

The liftoff will mark the eighth for the Delta heavy for NRO missions, according to ULA. The private space company has another launch lined up for NRO sometime in September but that will be with Altas V, ULA’s workhorse rocket.

Last October, the heavy-lift rocket launched NASA’s Parker Solar Probe from Cape Canaveral on a mission to study the sun.

Ahead of the launch, ULA did something unusual with the rocket. It used the rocket and launch hangar as a backdrop to project an interactive video, known as 3D mapping.

The project took three years to complete because it’s a rocket with a national security payload on a base with restricted access. It’s the first time a real rocket has been used as a landscape for art, according to ULA. The idea came from ULA CEO Tory Bruno.

If ULA’s launch goes on time, it will be the first of three possible launches this week from the Space Coast. SpaceX has two launches planned, one on Thursday and again on Friday.

Subscribe to a weekly newsletter to receive the latest in space news directly to your inbox here.