A major US spy satellite was successfully launched into orbit on Saturday from Central California, as concerns were voiced that the continued closure of the government could disrupt the launch plans for future commercial, civil and possibly even military payloads.
The Delta IV rocket carrying a rocket A classic satellite from the National Reconnaissance Office was fired at 11:10 am local time by the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The main engines of the 1.6 million pound rocket worked as expected and the upper stage ignited about six minutes. The rocket was delivered to the Air Force by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of
Originally scheduled for early December, the mission was the 1
The Air Force and the rest of the Armed Forces Armed forces are not affected by the current budget dispute, but military launches require civil licenses and other government permits that could be obtained in the current partial closure.
Lockheed Martin has warned in a regulatory filing that the introduction of the budget could jeopardize the introduction of a commercial satellite for a Saudi Arabian customer. Lockheed Martin needs government approval for a Russian cargo jet to fly satellites to California for takeoff to Florida. The company also stated that the schedule for some planned military launches could slip during this year.
The partial decommissioning has already hit at least one rocket launch, Exos Aerospace Systems & Technologies Inc., which had to postpone its scheduled launch of its sarge rocket from a New Mexico site earlier this month. US Air Traffic Authority officials were not available to make any changes to the starting license of the Texas-based company.
Some industry representatives also pointed to potential hurdles for other projects due to delays in obtaining certain US government export licenses.
Other experts said The long-awaited first commercial launch of a commercial crew capsule by Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. could slide down in mid-February due to staffing issues for the government. The non-astronaut demonstration mission on board would be a milestone in NASA's efforts to reintroduce American crews of US-built rockets and spacecraft for the first time since the departure of the Space Shuttle fleet.
The SpaceX Rocket is Launched by a NASA station at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA's plans are for employees to stay at work without pay to support space launching, protect lives and property, and, among other things, drive SpaceX's demonstration mission.
NASA has announced that its current plans are to continue with the SpaceX mission without modification.
But industry officials said it was too early to say whether NASA could adequately support the February mission, including conducting technical final exams. Local news reports have shown that only a small percentage of Kennedy Space Center employees are free from decommissioning and remain on the job. NASA has partnered with SpaceX to complete "hardware testing and joint reviews" to prepare for the launch of the unmanned crew capsule, "at the earliest in February". Write to Andy Pasztor at [email protected]