The twice-delayed launch of a rocket carrying a reconnaissance satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County is scheduled Tuesday evening, potentially giving the Southland a holiday-season aerial light show.
According to United Launch Alliance, it will try again to launch the rocket at 5:57 p.m. The Delta IV Heavy rocket will be carrying a secretive satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
Rocket launches from Vandenberg, particularly those carried out after sundown, have traditionally created spectacular light shows in the skies over Southern California and the southwestern United States.
The ULA launch was scrubbed Dec. 8 just 7.5 seconds before its scheduled liftoff due to a technical glitch. An operational problem had caused a delay in the launch one day prior to that.
United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
“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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