United Launch Alliance (ULA) again postponed on Thursday the launch of the a Delta IV rocket with a spy satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), an ULA official said during the online liftoff coverage on the company's website. It marked the 27th NRO launch by United Launch Alliance, which is a Colorado-based aerospace partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
As usual with classified payloads, no details about the NROL-47 satellite were released.
However, we can make a few inferences.
This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium+ (5, 2) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) powered by one common booster core and two solid rocket motors built by Orbital ATK.
A ground system helium problem caused blastoff to be delayed by more than hour.
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The Delta IV carrying NROL-47 rises into the California sky on January 12, 2018.
The launch will be the agency's first in 2018 at the air base northwest of Santa Barbara.
The GEM 60s provided additional thrust to the lone Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A engine located in the Delta IV's first stage. It was also the 36 flight of the Delta IV rocket since its inaugural launch in 2002.
ULA's next planned flight is the launch of an Atlas V 411 rocket with the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 spacecraft for the U.S. Air Force. "The entire team - the 30th Space Wing, the National Reconnaissance Office, United Launch Alliance, and others - worked hand-in-hand to ensure this launch was safe and successful". As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise.