No Election Day launch, ULA delays national security satellite liftoff

ULA Atlas V launch Wednesday at 5:54 p.m.; SpaceX Falcon launch Thursday at 6:24 p.m.

(Image: ULA) (ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Central Florida voters won’t see a rocket launch on Election Day after all. United Launch Alliance was slated to send up a secret spy satellite on the Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Tuesday evening but announced the mission has been delayed 24 hours.

The Atlas V rocket made the 1,800-feet journey to the launch pad Monday afternoon from the hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Inside the rocket’s nose cone is the NROL-101 satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. The NRO builds and maintains U.S. intelligence satellites providing support to the intelligence community and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The launch was slated for Tuesday evening about an hour before the polls closed but ULA announced late Monday liftoff is now planned for Wednesday at 5:54 p.m. EST.

“Upon arriving at the launch pad we experienced an upper payload environmental control system flow rate reduction," ULA said in a statement. “The team is in the process of rolling the Atlas V back to the vertical integration facility to complete troubleshooting.”

Both the rocket and satellite are healthy, according to ULA.

Forecasters with the 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 70% chance of good conditions for the new liftoff time.

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This will be the first launch for ULA since July. Another NRO satellite launch was delayed a handful of times in August, September and October before ULA announced the launch was delayed indefinitely.

In July, another Atlas V was used to send NASA’s new Mars rover on its journey to the Red Planet.

Later in the week, SpaceX is also planning a launch. The company is slated to launch a GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force and Air Force on Thursday. The 15-minute launch window opens at 6:24 p.m. The Falcon 9 will liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Weather officers are giving the liftoff a 60% chance for good launch weather.

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