The planned weekend launch of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will push into next week due to a tropical system near Florida, United Launch Alliance said Friday.
Tropical Depression Eta, recently downgraded from hurricane status, is expected to strengthen and skirt the west coast of Florida, diminishing Atlas V’s chances of flying Sunday evening. ULA will instead target no earlier than 5:22 p.m. Wednesday.
“We are rolling the Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-101 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office back to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) to secure the payload and vehicle,” the company said Friday.
Atlas V’s last launch attempt on Wednesday was scrubbed due to issues with the fueling system at Launch Complex 41, but ULA also confirmed the hardware has been fixed.
“The issue with the remotely commanded ground system liquid oxygen valves has been resolved and the rocket and payload are healthy,” ULA said.
The 206-foot rocket is tasked with launching a clandestine mission for the NRO, which owns and operates the nation’s fleet of intelligence satellites. The spacecraft are known to have cutting-edge imaging technologies, but little else has been made public.
The arrival of four astronauts for SpaceX’s next mission to the International Space Station, meanwhile, is still on for Sunday afternoon. Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi are slated to arrive at Kennedy Space Center around 2 p.m., then kick off a busy week of rehearsals and quarantine.
Their Crew Dragon capsule is scheduled to launch from pad 39A at 7:49 p.m. Nov. 14.