Space Coast Launch Triple Header Delayed by ULA Triple-Core Delta IV Heavy Scrub to Aug. 29: Photos

Launch Triple Header Delayed by ULA Delta IV Heavy Scrub to Aug. 29: Photos
ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket poised for overnight liftoff on Aug. 27 with NROL-44 spysat for U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from Space Launch Complex-37 is dramatically backdropped by Mobile Service Tower until scrub was called. Launch retargeted for 2:04 a.m. ET Aug. 29, 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL –  The potentially ‘historic’ launch triple header involving a trio of rocket blastoffs in as little as 3 days have all been delayed like falling dominos by this morning’s scrub of the triple-core United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a top secret government satellite – due to technical issues encountered with ground launch systems at pad 37 about an hour before the planned middle-of-the-night liftoff under near perfect weather conditions from the Florida Space Coast.

The top secret NROL-44 intelligence gathering spy satellite owned by the secretive U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and sitting atop the mighty United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket will have to wait at least until Saturday, Aug. 29 for its ride to space following the scrub called by the launch director at about 1:20 a.m. EDT ahead of the planned 2:12 a.m. liftoff overnight this morning Wednesday, Aug. 27.

“Launch Director Lou Mangieri has announced that we will not continue with the #DeltaIVHeavy rocket countdown operations today for #NROL44. Another launch attempt will be possible in 24 hours,” ULA tweeted.

“The launch of the United Launch Alliance #DeltaIVHeavy #NROL44 mission was scrubbed today due to an issue with a critical ground pneumatics control system. The team needs additional time to evaluate and resolve the issue,” ULA tweeted.

“The launch of the United Launch Alliance #DeltaIVHeavy #NROL44 mission is now set for Sat., Aug. 29. Additional time is needed for the team to validate the appropriate path forward with the ground pneumatics control system,” ULA tweeted.

Liftoff of the 23-story tall triple stick United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket on the NROL-44 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is now re-slated for 2:04 a.m. EDT (0612 GMT) Aug. 29, 2020 from seaside Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

But that new Aug. 29 launch date assumes a rapid resolution to the problems detected with the ground pneumatics control system required for launch.

Remote cameras set up at Launch Complex 34 and the Apollo 1 memorial with flame ducts and launch mount to photograph the ULA Delta IV Heavy ready for liftoff with NROL-44 spysat for U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from Space Launch Complex-37. Launch retargeted for 2:04 a.m. ET Aug. 29, 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: Jean Wright/Space UpClose

Fortunately, the weather odds the middle of the night liftoff remain very high for Saturday at 80% GO.

“The launch will take place from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The forecast shows an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 2:04 a.m. EDT.”

The Delta IV Heavy / NROL-44 mission carrying the NROL-44 classified intelligence gathering satellite for the US government NRO spy agency was due to kick off a trio of Florida Space Coast launches overnight Aug. 27 – thus concluding a busy August with a tremendous finale of blastoffs including a duo of SpaceX Falcon 9’s on Aug. 29 and 30 marking three in just half a weeks’ time;  if all had gone well but which was not to be!

But each launch is dependent on the earlier ones in the line preceding forward since they are so closed packed together.

Essentially a delay in one launch has a ripple effect on the next ones – delayed like falling dominos because the clandestine NRO payload has priority on the US military run Eastern range – since NROL-44 is classed as critical for maintaining US National Security needs.

Triple stick ULA Delta IV Heavy inside Mobile Service Tower ready for liftoff with NROL-44 spysat for U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from Space Launch Complex-37 as seen from Launch Complex 34 and the Apollo 1 memorial. Launch retargeted for 2:04 a.m. ET Aug. 29, 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The earliest date for SpaceX to launch either Falcon 9 is Aug. 30.

The Argentinian radar imaging satellite SAOCOM 1B was slated first following by the 12th batch of SpaceX Starlink broadband internet satellites.

But that order may change since SpaceX routinely conducts a static fire test of the first stage engines first – and neither booster has yet been test fired as of this writing.

All we know is the two SpaceX launches have moved to the right.

Enjoy our Space UpClose gallery of images from the team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright.

ULA Delta IV Heavy rocket poised for overnight liftoff on Aug. 27 with NROL-44 spysat for U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from Space Launch Complex-37 is dramatically backdropped by Mobile Service Tower until scrub was called. Launch retargeted for 2:04 a.m. ET Aug. 29, 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Watch my Aug. 25 commentary at WKMG CBS 6 TV News Orlando

Video Caption: It’s going to be a busy three days on the Space Coast with three rocket launches scheduled for a history-making line up but to make this triple-header happen, the weather and rocketry must align. James Sparvero/CBS 6

Dr. Ken Kremer, managing Editor of Space Up Close, interviewed on CBS 6 TV News Orlando about 3 upcoming launches just half a week apart from Florida Space Coast. Screenshot: Ken Kremer/CBS 6

Watch my Aug. 14 guest host and Aug 3 interview appearances at ‘Stay Curious’ show at the American Space Museum about successful Mars Perseverance launch, successful splashdown SpaceX Crew Dragon on Demo-2 1st commercial mission as well as upcoming Crew-1, Artemis Moon mission, SpaceX Starlink and more:

Guest Hosts Ken & Jean Talk about Photographing Space Events at KSC to help you “Stay Curious.”

Filling in for MarQ today are space journalist Ken Kremer and launch photographer/Shuttle “Sew Sister” Jean Wright, who will take you behind the scenes of covering rocket launches on the Cape Canaveral “Rocket Ranch.” Marty is behind the camera to keep Ken & Jean in line, and help you “Stay Curious!”

Posted by American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame on Friday, August 14, 2020

SpaceX Dragon and Mars Rover update from space journalist Dr. Ken Kremer

Space journalist Dr. Ken Kremer gives the latest insight to the successful crew Dragon Endeavour flight of SpaceX. MarQ & Marty ask Ken about the crewed flight, as well as the Mars rover launch—all to help you “Stay Curious.”

Posted by American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame on Monday, August 3, 2020

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

ULA Delta IV Heavy ready for liftoff with NROL-44 spysat for NRO from Space Launch Complex-37 as seen from Launch Complex 34 and the Apollo 1 memorial and ‘abandoned in place’ Launch Mount. Launch retargeted for 2:04 a.m. ET Aug. 29, 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: Jean Wright/Space UpClose
NROL-44 mission artwork. Credit NRO/ULA

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Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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