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ULA plans to ring Friday's launch on Friday night – Spaceflight Now

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Updated the weather forecast on March 14th at 9:00 am CEST (1300 GMT) on March 14th.

The payload fairing of the Delta 4 missile, which contains the US Air Force WGS 10 communications satellites, is being prepared for launch on the launch vehicle February 26 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credit: United Launch Alliance

The United Launch Alliance ground crews are putting a finishing touch to a Delta 4 missile scheduled for blastoff from Cape Canaveral on Friday evening with a US Air Force communications satellite.

(meters) Delta 4 rocket is set to take off at 6:56 am EDT (2256 GMT) Friday, about half an hour before sunset on the Florida Space Coast. The start window on Friday evening is open until 21:05. EDT (0105 GMT).

The payload for the Delta-4 rocket is the Boeing-based WGS 10 Air Force communications satellite, which will join a fleet of broadband relay nodes located around the world in a geostationary orbit of more than 22,000 Miles (nearly 200,000 km) are stationed 36,000 kilometers above the equator.

Friday night's mission is Cape Canaveral's third start of the year and ULA's second mission from 2019 after a January 19 Delta 4 heavy flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Delta 4 launcher, which is covered in orange insulation over its cryogenic fuel tanks, will launch eastward from Cape Canaveral with 1.8 million pounds of thrust and launch four solid rocket engines built by Northrop Grumman around it one and a half minutes after the flight fall into the Atlantic Ocean. The four sturdy missile boosters should leave a twisted plume of exhaust as the Delta 4 climbs into space, which is sure to appeal to beach lovers and space enthusiasts hoping for takeoff. The Delta 4 will jettison the protective aerodynamic shell nearly two minutes later, and the rocket's RS-68A hydrogen-powered main engine, built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, will be at T + plus 3 Minutes and 55 seconds shut down.

Seconds later the delta 4 The lower stage drops off and the upper stage RL10B-2 engine fires for about 15 minutes to place the WGS 10 spacecraft in a tentative orbit. A restart of the RL10B-2 engine at T + plus 29 minutes, 29 seconds, raises the rocket's orbit to an altitude of 44,315 kilometers (27,536 miles) and prepares the deployment of over 13,000 pounds (nearly 6,000 kilograms) of WGS 10 satellite at T + plus 36 minutes, 50 seconds.

Like its predecessors in orbit, the Air Force's 10th Global Broadband SATCOM Satellite Satellite Force Command will route classified and unclassified data and video, and support US and Allied countries around the world. With a digital channelizer, WGS 10 will relay high-speed communication in X-band and Ka-band frequencies during a mission that is expected to take at least 14 years.

Credit: United Launch Alliance [19659003] The nine previous WGS satellites all launched on ULA rockets – the first two on Atlas 5s in 2007 and 2009 and the following seven on Delta 4.

"ULA's Proud to be the exclusive starter of all ten WGS missions, said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of government and commercial programs. "Our focus on mission success proves time and time again that providing safe and reliable delivery of these important national assets is our highest priority."

The weather forecast for Friday night's launch looks favorable, with a likelihood of 80 percent acceptable conditions. The only potential weather problem predicted by the 45th Air Force Weather Squadron is the ability to violate the Cumulus Cloud rule during the countdown.

"There is a slight chance of an isolated rain shower during the take-off window. Inland showers could move back southwest over the coast before declining shortly after sunset," wrote the Air Force forecasting team on Thursday.

At the start time, forecasters forecast scattered clouds at 3,000 feet, broken clouds at 28,000 feet, and winds from 12 to 16 knots from south-southeast, with temperatures expected to be 74-76 degrees Fahrenheit at launch. [IfthelaunchisdelayeduntilSaturdayweatherconditionsarelikelytoworsenasacoldfrontmovesincentralFloridawith60percentchanceofweatherconditionsviolatinganyoftheDelta4'sstartingweatherrules

Delta 4 with the communication satellite WGS 10 was previously for Wednesday, March 13, provided "To allow additional fixes to fix some non-nominal data ads."

ULA and Air Force officials will meet Thursday morning to do a start-up check to clear the Delta 4 rocket for the final countdown preparations.

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