Delta IV rocket launches with Air Force satellite from Space Coast

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

The United Launch Alliance launched the Delta IV rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Friday.

On board the rocket is a GPS satellite for the Air Force.

Liftoff was originally set for 6:56 p.m., but was pushed back to 8:26 p.m. due to some technical issues.

At 8:26 p.m. all things were a go for liftoff. 

What is the payload? The communications satellite is the 10th for the U.S. military's Wideband Global SATCOM constellation, all launched by ULA. The first satellite, built by Boeing, launched in 2007.

Two more satellites are expected to be added to the WGS system however negotiations between Boeing and the Air Force have stalled the satellites.

The satellite configuration doesn't only benefit the U.S. Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and New Zealand have also partially financed the program in exchange for global communications services, according to the Air Force.

What else you should know about this launch:

ULA's Delta IV rockets are known for their fireball-producing liftoffs. Watching the launch livestream online you might think, "Is the rocket about to blow?" Nope. The reason for the extra smoke and fire is a chemical reaction as hydrogen boils off the rocket, usually in the last few seconds of the countdown.

The Delta IV launching Friday was in the medium configuration of the rocket. The configuration features a hydrogen-fueled booster, four solid rocket motors and a Delta Cryogenic Second Stage. All previous WGS launches were also the same configuration.

On the East Coast, ULA's liftoff was the second of the year following, SpaceX's test flight of its human-rated Crew Dragon capsule.

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