A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket was going to launch the NROL-44 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to support national security at 2:12 a.m., EDT, on August 27. Now the launch, according to the company, will occur on Sunday, September 27, at 12:10 a.m., ET. Apparently there is an issue at the launchpad itself that involves the swing arm retractable system.
The Delta IV Heavy is the nation’s proven heavy lifter, delivering high-priority missions for the U.S. Space Force, NRO and NASA. The vehicle also launched NASA’s Orion capsule on its first orbital test flight and sent the Parker Solar Probe on its journey to become the fastest robot in history while surfing through the sun’s atmosphere.
This Delta IV Heavy is comprised of three common core boosters each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing a combined total of more than 2.1 million pounds of thrust. The second stage is powered by an AR RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.
This will be the 41st launch of the Delta IV rocket, and the 12th in the Heavy configuration. To date ULA has launched 140 times with 100 percent mission success.
“ULA is proud of the long-standing history of supporting critical national security missions and the continued partnership with our mission partners,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “Only the Delta IV Heavy possesses the capability to deliver this unique mission to orbit due to a combination of heavy lift and the largest flight-proven payload fairing.”