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ULA plans to ring in the weekend with Friday evening launch – Spaceflight Now

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The Delta Four rocket’s payload fairing, containing the U.S. Air Power’s WGS 10 communications satellites, is readied for mounting atop the launcher Feb. 26 at Cape Canaveral Air Power Station, Florida. Credit score: United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance floor crews are placing the ultimate touches on a Delta Four rocket scheduled for blastoff Friday night from Cape Canaveral with a U.S. Air Power communications satellite tv for pc.

The 218-foot-tall (66-meter) Delta Four rocket is ready for liftoff at 6:56 p.m. EDT (2256 GMT) Friday, round a half-hour earlier than sundown on Florida’s House Coast. Friday night time’s launch window extends till 9:05 p.m. EDT (0105 GMT).

The payload for the Delta Four rocket is the Air Power’s Boeing-built WGS 10 communications satellite tv for pc, which can be a part of a fleet of wideband relay nodes stationed all over the world in geostationary orbit greater than 22,000 miles (practically 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

Friday night’s mission would be the third launch of the 12 months from Cape Canaveral, and ULA’s second mission of 2019, following a Delta Four-Heavy flight Jan. 19 from Vandenberg Air Power Base in California.

The Delta Four launcher, coated in orange thermal insulation over its cryogenic propellant tanks, will blast off with 1.eight million kilos of thrust and head due east from Cape Canaveral, releasing 4 Northrop Grumman-built strap-on stable rocket motors round a minute-and-a-half into the flight to fall into the Atlantic Ocean. The 4 stable rocket boosters ought to depart a twisting exhaust plume of their wake because the Delta Four climbs into area, including to the spectacle for beachgoers and area lovers hoping to see the launch.

The Delta Four will jettison the protecting aerodynamic shroud over the WGS 10 spacecraft practically two minutes later, and the rocket’s core stage hydrogen-fueled RS-68A predominant engine, made by Aerojet Rocketdyne, will shut down at T+plus three minutes, 55 seconds.

Seconds later, the Delta Four’s decrease stage will drop away, and the higher stage’s RL10B-2 engine will ignite for round 15 minutes to position the WGS 10 spacecraft in a preliminary parking orbit. A restart of the RL10B-2 engine at T+plus 29 minutes, 29 seconds, will elevate the excessive level of the rocket’s orbit to an altitude of 27,536 miles (44,315 kilometers), organising for deployment of the greater than 13,000-pound (practically 6,000-kilogram) WGS 10 satellite tv for pc at T+plus 36 minutes, 50 seconds.

Like its predecessors already in orbit, the Air Power’s 10th Wideband World SATCOM communications satellite tv for pc will route categorized and unclassified knowledge and video, supporting U.S and allied forces all over the world. That includes a digital channelizer, WGS 10 will relay high-data-rate communications in X-band and Ka-band frequencies throughout a mission anticipated to final at the least 14 years.

Credit score: United Launch Alliance

The 9 earlier WGS satellites all launched on ULA rockets — the primary two on Atlas 5s in 2007 and 2009, and the next seven on Delta 4s.

“ULA is proud to be the unique launch supplier for all ten WGS missions,” mentioned Gary Wentz, ULA vp of presidency and business Applications. “Our give attention to mission success regularly demonstrates that safely and reliably delivering these vital nationwide belongings is our highest precedence.”

The climate outlook for Friday night time’s launch seems favorable, with a 70 p.c likelihood of acceptable situations. The one potential climate concern forecast by the Air Power’s 45th Climate Squadron is the potential of violating the cumulus cloud rule in the course of the countdown.

“Through the launch window, there’s a slight chance of an remoted bathe early within the window as any showers that kind inland might transfer again over the coast with southwesterly steering circulation earlier than diminishing shortly after sundown,” the Air Power’s forecast staff wrote Wednesday.

At launch time, forecasters predict scattered clouds at three,000 toes, damaged clouds at 28,000 toes, and winds of 15 knots from the south-southeast. The temperature at launch time is forecast to be round 72 to 75 levels Fahrenheit.

If the launch is delayed to Saturday, climate situations are anticipated to worsen as a chilly entrance strikes into Central Florida. There’s a 60 p.c likelihood of climate situations violating one of many Delta Four’s launch climate guidelines Saturday.

The Delta Four’s launch with the WGS 10 communications satellite tv for pc was beforehand scheduled for Wednesday, March 13. ULA introduced a two-day delay Saturday “to permit for added troubleshooting to resolve some off-nominal knowledge indications.”

ULA and Air Power officers are scheduled to fulfill Thursday morning for a launch readiness assessment to clear the Delta Four rocket for ultimate countdown preparations.

Email the writer.

Observe Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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