Delta IV Heavy rocket on launch pad
The Delta IV Heavy rocket on the launch pad shortly before sunset on Saturday. Courtesy United Launch Alliance

The scheduled launch of a rocket carrying a reconnaissance satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County has been scrubbed for a second time, with no new date scheduled.

The Saturday night cancellation came just 7.5 seconds before the Delta IV Heavy carrying a secretive satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office was set to lift off, and was blamed on a last second technical glitch.

This was the second time in less than a week that the mission was halted. An earlier launch, set for Friday, was also cancelled due to an operational problem.

“The launch of #DeltaIVHeavy carrying the #NROL71 mission for the @NatReconOfc was scrubbed today due to an unexpected condition during terminal count,” officials with United Launch Alliance or ULA, posted on Twitter. “The team is reviewing all data and will determine the path forward. A new launch date will be provided when available.”

United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. ULA’s Delta IV Heavy rocket would carry a secretive satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

“We are proud to launch this critical payload in support of our nation’s national security mission,” Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of government and commercial programs, said in a statement prior to the two delays. “As the nation’s premiere launch provider, the teams have worked diligently to ensure continued mission success, delivering our customer’s payloads to the precise orbits requested.”

According to the company, the Delta IV Heavy rocket includes three Rocketdyne liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines that can produce a combined 2.1 million pounds of thrust.

ULA has carried out 27 launches for the National Reconnaissance Office over the past 12 years.

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