United Launch Alliance (ULA) will have another crack at launching its Delta IV Heavy rocket for the NROL44 mission on Friday, September 25.
The space transportation company’s bid to deploy a spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) was thwarted twice in August after various technical issues came to light, with the second launch effort aborted just seconds before lift-off.
Colorado-based ULA says the issues have been resolved and it’s now all-systems-go, with the mission set to get underway from Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral in Florida on Friday evening PT.
It’s Launch Week! We’re looking forward to working w/ @ULALaunch, @AF_SMC & @45thSpaceWing to launch #NROL44 on Sep 26. Join us very early on Saturday morning (launch period 12:01 a.m.-1:35 a.m. EDT) to watch the launch countdown: https://t.co/84EztwBXrF
— NRO (@NatReconOfc) September 21, 2020
The powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket features three booster cores for extra thrust to enable it to deploy the satellite into a higher orbit. It’s the largest rocket in ULA’s fleet and the second most powerful rocket in operation today after SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. The most powerful rocket ever to have taken flight was the Saturn V — the launch vehicle for crewed missions to the moon five decades ago, while plans for other super-heavy rockets include NASA’s SLS system, SpaceX’s Starship, and Blue Origin’s New Glenn.
Friday’s launch will be ULA’s 141st mission and its 29th for the NRO. It’s also the 385th Delta launch since 1960, the 12th Delta IV Heavy launch, and the 8th Heavy for the NRO. The Delta family of rockets has proved its reliability over the years and currently enjoys a near-perfect success rate.
How to watch
ULA is aiming to launch its Delta IV Heavy at 9:14 p.m PT on Friday, September 25.
You can watch the launch on the embedded player at the top of this page or via ULA’s YouTube channel.
If you’re a fan of rocket lunches and space missions, check out this Digital Trends compilation showing the most important ones that took place over the summer months.
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