US: Inclement weather caused United Launch Alliance to scrub a planned launch about 55 seconds before it was scheduled to send a spy satellite into orbit. Satellite imagery had shown a major storm that had mostly moved off into the Atlantic Ocean, but a second system caused the scrub. The backup time was set for 1:51 p.m. on Saturday.
It comes after ULA CEO Tory Bruno said on Twitter that the chances of a launch tonight remained “small, but not zero” but that he was “not hopeful.” Amid darkening, overcast skies, United Launch Alliance crews had been conducting tests to determine when exactly its rocket will be ready to launch.
A ULA official said Thursday morning that the company was on on “lightning watch” as its launch of a U.S. government satellite from Florida’s Space Coast approached. ULA had planned to launch the satellite on its enormous Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
With 55 seconds remaining at 5:57, officials on the company’s broadcast stopped the countdown. Throughout the week, the probability of a launch had hovered in the 40 percent range. That number, which is reported the 45th Space Wing of the U.S. Air Force, sat at roughly 30 percent early Thursday.
On Wednesday, the National Reconnaissance Office Tweeted that the satellite “will carry a national security payload” that the agency designed. The launch will kick off a period of heavy activity on Florida’s Space Coast. Following ULA’s launch Thursday, SpaceX will send a commercial satellite into orbit Tuesday.
After that, ULA will send up a satellite that will help in secure communications for military forces. ULA, a Lockheed Martin-Boeing partnership, will launch 11 times during the next seven months, with several of those coming from Florida.
Source: Orlando Sentinel