4th Attempt Set for Rocket Launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A fourth attempt will be made today to launch a rocket carrying a reconnaissance satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County, giving the Southland another chance at an early evening aerial light show.

The launch has been delayed three times already, most recently Tuesday night due to high winds. On Dec. 8, the launch was scrubbed just 7.5 seconds before its scheduled liftoff due to a technical glitch. An operational problem had caused a delay in the launch one day prior to that.

United Launch Alliance -- a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing -- will try again to launch the rocket at 5:44 p.m. Wednesday. Launches from Vandenberg, especially those carried out after sundown, typically create impressive aerial light shows over Southern California and the southwestern United States.

The Delta IV Heavy rocket will be carrying a secretive satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

“We are proud to launch this critical payload in support of our nation's national security mission,” Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of government and commercial programs, said in a statement prior to the two delays. “As the nation's premiere launch provider, the teams have worked diligently to ensure continued mission success, delivering our customer's payloads to the precise orbits requested.”

According to the company, the Delta IV Heavy rocket includes three Rocketdyne liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines that can produce a combined 2.1 million pounds of thrust.

ULA has carried out 27 launches for the National Reconnaissance Office over the past 12 years.

Photo: Getty Images

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