CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The early Thursday-morning scheduled rocket launch from Cape Canaveral did not happen for United Launch Alliance after a technical issue prompted the team to stand down.
The ULA’s Delta IV Heavy rocket was supposed to send up a classified spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office and it was scheduled to liftoff at 2:12 a.m. EDT.
In a tweet early Thursday morning, ULA stated the issue was a “critical ground pneumatics control system” and that its team needed time to look into the problem and work on it.
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 (@ulalaunch) August 27, 2020
Later in the day, ULA announced that it had pushed the launch back even further, to Saturday at 2:04 a.m.
There is an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch.
It was originally scheduled for a Wednesday morning launch at the same time, but according to the company’s tweet, the NRO requested a date change for the liftoff.
When it does launch, expect it to be a loud one as the Delta IV is made up of three powerful rocket boosters, which will create quite the rumble with a combined 2.1 million pounds of thrust.
However, ULA is not the only launch space fans will get to see this week.
For Sunday, SpaceX plans to launch the SAOCOM satellite for Argentina’s space agency. The liftoff is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EDT at the Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was scheduled for a launch at the same time on Thursday and then again on Friday.
But now that the SAOCOM mission has been moved to Sunday, it remains unclear if SpaceX will launch the Starlink mission, which had been scheduled for the same date and time. It had been scheduled to launch on Saturday.
ROCKET SHUFFLE: after this morning’s scrub, @ulalaunch #DeltaIVHeavy #NROL44 launch set for 2:08 am Friday. @SpaceX #Falcon9 #SAOCOM1B now moved to 10:30 am Sunday. That slot was latest @SpaceX #Starlink mission, unclear when it will go. @45thSpaceWing @MyNews13 #News13Brevard pic.twitter.com/TTNcOtGvGL
— Greg Pallone (@gpallone13) August 27, 2020
If it is a go, it will take place at the Kennedy Space Center on Launch Pad 39A.
If all three launches had gone off as planned, it would have been a trifecta: Three liftoffs in four days — which would be a record — beating three consecutive missions back in 2001, when a Titan 4, Delta II and a space shuttle launched within a five-day period.