Jan. 12 (UPI) — United Launch Alliance hopes the third time is the charm for their twice-delayed NROL-47 mission.
After ULA was forced to delay proceedings on Wednesday and Thursday, the space company is now preparing to launch its Delta IV rocket at 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. local time, on Friday.
The rocket is set to carry a spy satellite into low-Earth orbit for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. The launch will be streamed live, with coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
The original launch, scheduled for Wednesday, was pushed to Thursday due to high winds. Thursday’s attempt was scrubbed “due to an issue with a ground system valve.”
Friday’s takeoff will occur at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. The mission is ULA’s 27th for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
According to NASA Spaceflight, NROL-47 is most likely some type of radar imaging satellite.
Despite the two-day delay, Friday’s mission gives ULA a chance to showcase its reliability in the wake of the alleged failure of SpaceX’s Zuma mission.
Last weekend, a top secret government spacecraft launched by SpaceX reportedly failed to achieve a stable orbit. The government hasn’t confirmed whether the top-secret satellite did indeed fall out of orbit and reenter Earth’s atmosphere.
SpaceX claimed its rocket performed as expected, implying the blame for the Zuma mission lay elsewhere. The Pentagon has deflected questions to SpaceX, while one SpaceX customer said the blame lies with the maker of the secret spacecraft, Northrop Grumman.
It’s possible ULA is using extra precaution in the wake of the Zuma mission failure.