Delta IV Heavy rocket on launch pad

The Delta IV Heavy rocket, serving as the backdrop for a 3D projection at Cape Canaveral. 


After more than a month of delays, one of the biggest rockets in business is getting ready to blast off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a national security mission for the US National Reconnaissance Office, or NRO.

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket will carry a classified spy satellite to orbit as soon as the evening of Monday, Sept. 28, tipping into the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 29, the company announced Sunday. The launch was originally scheduled for Aug. 26 but was scrubbed multiple times due to technical problems with equipment on the launch pad. 

Over the past week technicians have been working through a problem with the swing arm retraction system, causing more delays.

Delta IV Heavy has performed other NRO missions and also sent the Parker Solar Probe on its way to survey our sun. 

The Delta IV Heavy’s lifting capability is second only to that of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. It resembles the Falcon Heavy, with its three core boosters making up its main body.

Unlike SpaceX, ULA doesn’t attempt to land its Delta boosters. They will instead be expended and fall into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Any launch of a triple-body heavy-lift rocket is still a sight to see, and ULA will be livestreaming the launch, which you can watch via the feed right here on this page. 

At the moment, launch is set for 9:02 p.m. PT Monday (12:02 a.m. ET Tuesday).

If you happen to be in Florida, the rocket will be visible from much of the state as it ascends toward orbit, according to this graphical guide provided by ULA. 

See also: These telescopes work with your phone to show exactly what’s in the sky



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