Friday’s delayed Delta IV Heavy rocket launch means three back-to-back launches


United Launch Alliance had to delay the Delta IV Heavy rocket launch that was scheduled for Friday. With the launch delayed, the entire launch schedule had to be adjusted, setting the stage for three back-to-back mission launches. If the schedules hold, United Launch Alliance will kick off the trio of launches starting on Sunday at 12:10 AM.

The flight was delayed from Friday, and the new launch window is 24 hours after its previously scheduled attempt. The flight was delayed due to an issue discovered with a swingarm retraction system at Launch Complex 37. The rocket will put a classified intelligence payload for the National Reconnaissance Office known as NROL-44 into orbit.

A successful launch will mark the Florida Space Coast’s first Delta IV Heavy launch since 2018 and the 12th successful launch of the rocket overall. Currently, Space Force predicts weather will give an 80 percent chance of launch with cumulus clouds listed as a primary concern. After the United Launch Alliance launch, the next up will be SpaceX.

SpaceX currently has a Falcon 9 on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, targeting a launch for 10:22 AM on Monday to put 60 additional Starlink satellites in orbit. There is a 70 percent chance of launch according to weather forecasters. The third launch would be another Falcon 9 set to launch at 9:55 PM on Tuesday.

That launch will put a new GPS satellite into orbit with current weather predictions at 80 percent for the mission launch. SpaceX intends to try and land the first stage rocket on a drone ship in that mission. That last launch will also be the final launch for September.


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