The scheduled ULA launch comes less than a week after SpaceX launched a mysterious Zuma payload for the United States government and allegedly failed to deliver it to orbit. As a classified mission, information about the satellite and its orbit is limited.
Manchester based company Starchaser has successfully launched a research rocket and now aims to rocket tourists into space by 2022. As usual, no one knows what the NROL-47 satellite is all about and what its mission is. The secretive nature of this launch is attributed to the fact that it is a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in support of the national defense.
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The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket lifted off at 2:11 p.m. It performs launch services for the US government at Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida. "The forecast shows a 90% chance of favourable weather conditions for launch".
United Launch Alliance's CEO and President, Tory Bruno expressed the excitement of seeing the final planned launch of a Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) soar through California's skies when he tweeted: "Delta is ripping the sky at incredible speed".
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The launch will happen at Space Launch Complex-6, which sits about 140 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. But this time, it has used the two-stage, 217-foot-tall (66 m) Delta IV rocket.
ULA said: "The ULA #DeltaIV #NROL47" launch for the @NatReconOfc was scrubbed today due to an issue with a ground system valve. "Aerojet Rocketdyne employees across the country work hard to ensure 100 percent mission success, and our role in yet another launch for the National Reconnaissance Office demonstrates the trust and confidence in our propulsion".
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It was declared a false alarm 20 minutes later, but not before panic started to spread. Efforts to reach Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency were unsuccessful.
Sunday's launch was SpaceX's third classified mission.