Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

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Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6
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A Delta IV takes off from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg AFB on June 27, 2006 (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Quinton Russ)

By United Launch Alliance
December 29, 2018
 
LAUNCH UPDATE: The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission will launch no earlier than Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. The mission will launch from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

By East Beach
December 20, 2018
 
This image was made just prior to the scrub of Wednesday's NROL-71 launch from the top of East Camino Cielo near Painted Cave. The time was ~5:32 PM (about 10 minutes before the scheduled launch window). The camera is pointed at 280 degrees azimuth with Cachuma Lake in the foreground. Less than a minute before the image was captured, a streak of (vertically oriented?) light appeared and then a "poof" of vapor/smoke.  At the time, I assumed it was a flare or small rocket to evaluate atmospheric winds. Altitudes are difficult to judge at great distances. Hopefully someone will be able to tell us what it actually was!
 

Update by Vandenberg Air Force Base
December 20, 2018

The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office was scrubbed yesterday due to indications of elevated hydrogen concentrations within the port booster engine section.

The team is currently reviewing all data and set the next launch attempt no earlier than Dec. 30, 2018.


Update by Vandenberg Air Force Base
December 19, 2018
 
6:30 p.m.

The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office was scrubbed today due to indications of elevated hydrogen concentrations within the port booster engine section.

The team is prepping for a 24-hour turn around on Thursday, Dec. 20, from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The forecast shows a 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch is planned for 5:31 p.m. PST

9:00 a.m.
This evening's planned launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Vandenberg AFB appears to be on schedule. Liftoff is slated for 5:44 p.m. PST from south Vandenberg. The most recent weather forecast called for an 80% probability of acceptable weather at launch time.

If the sky is clear, the launch could be visible over a wide area. Computer simulations by Rick Balrdridge show if the rocket is launched on time, it will climb into sunlight at high altitude during the powered portion of the launch at T+ 4 minutes 20 seconds. In other words, the rocket's exhaust plume should be illuminated by the sun with a dark sky as a background.

For launch and countdown status and launch coverage, go to:
https://spaceflightnow.com
www.ulalaunch.com
www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance


Update by Vandenberg Air Force Base
December 18, 2018

The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office was scrubbed today due to high ground winds.

The next launch attempt is planned for Wed., Dec. 19, from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The forecast indicates an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The targeted launch time is 5:44 p.m. PST.


Update by United Launch Alliance
December 17, 2018
 
Everything is progressing toward the ULA Delta IV Heavy launch carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office. The mission is set to lift off on a Delta IV Heavy rocket on Tuesday, Dec. 18 from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Today’s forecast shows a 20 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 5:57 p.m. PST
 
Live broadcast coverage of launch will begin at 5:37 p.m. PST on Dec. 18.
Live launch updates and webcast available at:  www.ulalaunch.com

Update by Vandenberg Air Force Base
December 13, 2018

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office is set to launch on Tuesday, Dec. 18. The mission will lift off on a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch time is 5:57 p.m. PST.

Further details will be provided regarding remote camera set up and launch coverage.


Update by Vandenberg Air Force Base
December 8, 2018
 
The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office was scrubbed today due to an unexpected condition during terminal count at approximately 7.5 seconds before liftoff. The team is currently reviewing all data and will determine the path forward. A new launch date will be provided when available.

Update by Vandenberg Air Force Base
December 7, 2018

The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office was scrubbed today due to an issue with a redundant communication link between the control center and the launch site.   

The team is prepping for a 24-hour turn around on Saturday, Dec. 8, from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The forecast shows a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 8:06 p.m. PT.

 


Source: Vandenberg Air Force Base
December 6, 2018

Team Vandenberg is scheduled to support the launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload from Space Launch Complex-6 on Friday, Dec. 7, with a launch window opening at 8:19 p.m. PST.  

Col. Bob Reeves, 30th Space Vice Wing commander, will be the space launch commander. 

"Team V has put in a lot of hard work for this launch," said Reeves. "We are dedicated to mission success and proud to work alongside United Launch Alliance and the National Reconnaissance Office."

The 4th Space Launch Squadron executes integrated launch operations with a focus on mission assurance for this spacelift mission.  

"Every mission is unique and this Delta IV Heavy launch is a prime example of teamwork with a laser focus on mission success," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Decker, 4th SLS commander and Air Force Launch Director for the mission.

"Our mission assurance technicians and engineers have worked diligently with United Launch Alliance and the other mission partners to reduce risk in order to assure mission safety and security.  The men and women of the 4 SLS are proud to contribute to this important mission."

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a-1547707646 Dec 29, 2018 05:03 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Watch a clip of that thing at ignition, there’s a giant cloud of burning hydrogen that engulfs the bottom half of the rockets, looks like something that Wile E. Coyote would build.

PurpleBee Dec 20, 2018 11:26 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

For crying out loud! I'd promised the kids and some of their friends I'd take them up to a spot on San Marcos pass to watch the rocket launch. Tonight was yet another disappointment to them after bundling up and loading in the car for the third time. They don't understand the reasons, but tonight we made it a bit better with hot chocolates all around. Any bets that it will go up on the 30th?

a-1547707646 Dec 19, 2018 06:35 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

TOMORROW - Thursday even earlier! Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 (Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 19, 2018) – The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office was scrubbed today due to indications of elevated hydrogen concentrations within the port booster engine section. The team is prepping for a 24-hour turn around on Thursday, Dec. 20, from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The forecast shows an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is planned for 5:31 p.m. PST.

John Wiley Dec 19, 2018 06:28 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Anyone else notice the circular contrail in the North? Maybe a "chase" plane for aerial tracking & photography of the launch? The jet stream looks a bit funky. Upper level winds are strong in aviation forecasts right now, and stronger over VAFB tomorrow even though surface winds are predicted to be light. Depending on the launch track, that could lead to another scrub tomorrow.

EastBeach Dec 20, 2018 01:01 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Two videos of last night's meteor streaking through the atmosphere. One from a dashcam and another from a Nest camera: https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/video/3997401-questions-circulate-about-mysterious-light-in-the-sky/

EastBeach Dec 20, 2018 10:15 AM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Thanks Macpuzl. When I went out last night, I knew the comet would be somewhere near the Seven Sisters. But that's where the moon was too.

macpuzl Dec 20, 2018 08:54 AM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Eastbeach - The comet would be hard to spot in binoculars even in a dark sky, but with the Moon phase over the next week it'll be really tough. It's large and diffuse.

Shasta Guy Dec 20, 2018 07:16 AM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Per Spaceweather.com, the streak was a meteoroid that entered the atmosphere above Northen California. They have a nice image of it here: http://www.spaceweather.com

EastBeach Dec 20, 2018 12:25 AM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Remember when Evelyn Taft used to do the weather and late night news locally? She's down at KCAL9 and reported on the meteor tonight ............ https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/video/3997388-mysterious-light-in-the-sky-seen-across-california-likely-a-meteor/

Potif Dec 19, 2018 11:47 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Apparently the 'streak' was seen from Northern (at least to the Bay Area) California to Southern (around here) California by many. And, quite a few photos were taken and showing up on news reports from all the different areas.

EastBeach Dec 19, 2018 10:55 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Turns out I got a photo of the vapor/smoke shortly (within a minute) of it appearing. Just sent it in to the good folks @Edhat so hopefully they'll post it here. I can't say with certainty whether the vertical streak's apparent motion was upwards or downwards. It would be cool if it actually was a meteor (a laggard from last week's Geminids?). Hmmm, makes me wonder if the Christmas Comet will be visible through binoculars with the moon up tonight?

macpuzl Dec 19, 2018 10:20 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

JW - Not at all unusual for the debris train to be pushed around by winds at altitude. We're talking 50-70 miles up, in this case. Actual trajectory was overhead in northern California.

John Wiley Dec 19, 2018 10:14 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Sounding rocket makes sense, given the messed up jetstream. Don't know what the limits are for stratospheric crosswinds, but the forecast was for no directional wind shear, but quite different velocities of W-SW wind fastest at about 30k-45k' so maybe they'd tax the trajectory correction. The thing about hydrogen in the booster sure hints at design problems, so maybe not wind at all.

John Wiley Dec 19, 2018 10:09 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

wow. Glad I asked! *Vertical* streak of light. How fast? Instant laser, sounding rocket? Not a high altitude or supersonic jet that did a 360 turn?

EastBeach Dec 19, 2018 09:56 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Interesting ... I was on East Camino Cielo with my camera on a tripod pointed 280-degrees azimuth overlooking Cachuma Lake. I happened to look up and *thought* I saw a vertical streak of light and then "poof" (no sound) ... the vapor/smoke appeared. The streak appeared to move faster than a typical launch, but hard to recount details. Wish I had the shutter open for that!

EastBeach Dec 19, 2018 07:08 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

I did see that trail left by either a flare or small rocket that was fired/launched around T-minus 10 minutes. I assumed it was to assess low-altitude winds (???) or to signal some sort of status. It left a nice vapor/smoke trail that resembled a contrail in a small area.

a-1547707646 Dec 19, 2018 05:12 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

This launch will go live here (https://www.ulalaunch.com/missions/delta-iv-nrol-71) on the web at 5:24 pm tonight, Wednesday. It's going to be spectacular to see, so go outside, take your smartphone so you can see the liftoff live from the pad & then be ready for a sight to behold. Oh, snap a few pics to post. Have fun!

EastBeach Dec 18, 2018 12:56 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Yes, launch rescheduled to tomorrow @5:44pm (even closer to sunset!). From ULA's NROL-17 page ........ "The next launch attempt is planned for Wed., Dec. 19, from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The forecast indicates an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The targeted launch time is 5:44 p.m. PST."

a-1547707646 Dec 14, 2018 03:13 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

This launch on Tuesday the 18th at 5:57 pm will produce a guaranteed amazing, bright contrail in the dark sky that will be seen all the way to San Diego. Have your camera ready! Pro tip: If you have a smartphone, log into the live launch (https://www.ulalaunch.com/missions/delta-iv-nrol-71) minutes prior so you can follow on screen and know exactly what's going on with the launch.

EastBeach Dec 09, 2018 03:58 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

I noticed someone nearby had a star tracker for their digital SLR. Nice way to keep blurry stars out of your night sky photos. I've seen them for telescopes but I shouldn't have been surprised photogs are also using them. Example .......... https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1332922-REG/ioptron_3550_skyguider_pro_camera_mount.html/?ap=y&gclid=CjwKCAiAl7PgBRBWEiwAzFhmmvrmLxecivwHYmbcug-NXD9IYYjEXpL33GMLL7SYK3I_E_h_-BmD9RoCpAwQAvD_BwE&lsft=BI%3A514&smp=Y

a-1547707646 Dec 09, 2018 02:27 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

We were out on our deck on Friday night waiting for the original launch. After waiting for about 45 minutes in the cold air we figured that maybe we got the time wrong, or that maybe the launch was delayed. As it turns out, of course, the launch was delayed until last night. Well, last night we were at a party that had incredible food, live music, and lots of liquid merriment. Then we remembered that the launch was going to happen, so we got in our SUV, and headed home where we have an outdoor deck that is in the perfect position to see most of the Vandenburg launches. We were a bit cold, but knew that the launch was going to be spectacular.....we waited, and waited.....and waited....nothing. We were so disappointed that we had wasted so much time over two nights waiting for nothing to happen. Not sure if or when they are going to schedule the relaunch, but we plan to give it a pass as we're not willing to stand outside again while they "scrub" another launch. Guess we'll have to watch it on Youtube or read about it somewhere else.

EastBeach Dec 09, 2018 03:50 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Next time you can use the ULA link provided by John Wiley below on your cell phone to monitor live the minutes leading to the launch. Then you'll know if there's a delay or scrub right away. We were near Camino Cielo with three other groups of people. Two groups had cell coverage so we got the live launch status. SpaceX also has a live link for their launches.

Shasta Guy Dec 09, 2018 12:56 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Thanks everyone for your up to minute postings last night. I was a bit preoccupied with son’s birthday party winding down when I remembered about the launch at 8:30. I was ready to call everyone outside to watch it while refreshing Edhat on my iPhone at my street corner until I read the post that it was scrubbed. Launches like these make it look like a sunrise is happening while looking up Garden St.

EastBeach Dec 08, 2018 06:13 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

ULA's site said there could be a small adjustment to the launch time due to the 13-minute countdown delay experienced this afternoon.

John Wiley Dec 07, 2018 05:59 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

From ULA site: - - 5:28 p.m. PST (8:28 p.m. EST; 0128 UTC) - - (Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 7, 2018) – The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy carrying the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office was scrubbed today due to an issue with a redundant communication link between the control center and the launch site. - - The team is prepping for a 24-hour turn around on Saturday, Dec. 8, from Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The forecast shows a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 8:06 p.m. PT.

John Wiley Dec 07, 2018 06:02 PM
Delta IV Heavy Launch Moved to January 6

Yes, my guess is it will be cool to watch the brilliant flame when it clears the horizon. Maybe being 22 minutes earlier the trail will enter sunlight and put on a show when it nears orbit? Anyone here know the launch path and geometry of that offhand?

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