This morning’s notification indicated a delay of ULA’s Delta IV Heavy rocket on a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office.
To recap, the United launch Alliance rocket departed Space Launch Complex-37 at 8:09 p.m. EST on its mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. The outer boosters separated about four minutes into flight, followed by staging and ignition of the second stage two minutes later.
The eight-and-a-half-hour countdown started at 9:45 a.m. EST under the guidance of ULA Launch Conductor Scott Barney. Retraction of the Mobile Service Tower began at 10:32 a.m., final configuring of the pad then followed and was cleared of all personnel. The “go” for fueling was given by ULA Launch Director Lou Mangieri at 3:33 p.m. Tanking operations were successfully performed as 470,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen were placed into the rocket’s eight tanks.
The clear to launch was given at 8:03 p.m. EST by NRO Mission Director Col. Chad Davis, who serves as the director of the NRO’s Office of Space Launch.
The Announcement from ULA is as Follows
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying the NROL-44 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on Dec. 10 at 8:09 p.m. EST. To date ULA has launched 142 times with 100 percent mission success.
“We are honored to launch the first payload from the newly renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. I want to thank our mission partners for their collaboration and teamwork as we worked through technical challenges that culminated in the launch of this critical national security payload,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “The Delta IV Heavy again demonstrated its success as the nation’s proven heavy lift vehicle, through its unique capability to deliver this mission to orbit due to a combination of performance and fairing size.”
The Delta IV Heavy is recognized for 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 spacecraft in history while surfing through the sun’s atmosphere.
This was the 41st launch of the Delta IV rocket, the 12th in the Heavy configuration and ULA’s 30th launch with the NRO.
This Delta IV Heavy was 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 was powered by an AR RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.
ULA’s next launch is the STP-3 mission for the U.S. Space Force, scheduled for first quarter 2021 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.
With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 140 missions to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, deliver cutting-edge commercial services and enable GPS navigation.