Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Rocket Launch From California Coast Rescheduled for Today

Rocket Launch From California Coast Rescheduled for Today

The NROL-47 spacecraft soared into Earth orbit today (Jan. 12), riding atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium rocket that lifted off from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5:11 p.m. EST (2211 GMT, 2:11 p.m. local California time).

"ULA and the NRO [National Reconnaissance Office] will be hoping for a better outcome as reports emerged that Zuma was likely met with an untimely demise shortly after arriving in orbit", ULA stated in a press release.

The mission - dubbed NROL-47 - is classified, so we don't know much about the payload and what it'll be used for once in orbit.

However, we can make a few inferences.

There seemed to be concern that the launch would be delayed again Friday after ULA reported a ground system helium problem.

The launch will be the agency's first in 2018 at the air base northwest of Santa Barbara.

There are three variants of Delta IV M+ configuration. These have been used on the Delta IV since its initial flight in 2002. The booster and upper stage engines are both built by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Yesterday, weather and other technical issues forced a delay. Beginning in 2019, Orbital ATK will provide upgraded GEM 60 solid rocket boosters, designated GEM 63 and GEM 63XL, for ULA's Atlas V and new Vulcan launch vehicles, respectively.

Col. Greg Wood, the 30th Space Wing vice commander, will serve as the space launch commander. "Aerojet Rocketdyne employees across the country work hard to ensure 100 percent mission success, and our role in yet another launch for the National Reconnaissance Office demonstrates the trust and confidence in our propulsion".

Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004.

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