Skip to main content

ULA scrubs launch of mighty Delta IV Heavy rocket with seconds to go

United Launch Alliance (ULA) was forced to scrub the launch of its powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket with just seconds to go on Wednesday night, September 30.

The emergence of a hardware issue seven seconds before liftoff prevented the NROL44 mission from getting underway. It means the customer, the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), will have to wait a little longer for the deployment of its spy satellite.

ULA’s bid to launch the mission is proving to be something of a challenge. Two attempts were called off in August, with several additional efforts scrubbed in recent days due to both technical issues and weather conditions.

The powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket features three booster cores for extra thrust to enable it to deploy the satellite into a higher orbit. It’s the largest rocket in ULA’s fleet and the second most powerful rocket in operation today after SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. The most powerful rocket ever to have taken flight was the Saturn V — the launch vehicle for crewed missions to the moon five decades ago. Plans for other super-heavy rockets include NASA’s SLS system, SpaceX’s Starship, and Blue Origin’s New Glenn.

The launch, when it finally happens, will be ULA’s 141st mission and its 29th for the NRO. It’ll also be the 385th Delta launch since 1960, the 12th Delta IV Heavy launch, and the 8th Heavy for the NRO. The Delta family of rockets has proved its reliability over the years and currently enjoys a near-perfect success rate.

How to watch

We’re now waiting for a new launch date to be announced by Colorado-based ULA, and we will update this article as soon as we know.

You’ll be able to watch the launch via ULA’s YouTube channel.

For the latest information on the launch status, check ULA’s feeds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you’re a fan of rocket launches and space missions, check out this Digital Trends compilation showing the most important ones that took place over the summer months.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Virgin Orbit sets date for second attempt at unique rocket launch
Virgin Orbit rocket

Virgin Orbit is gearing up for a second try at launching a rocket to space from a modified Boeing 747 jet plane. It's part of an ongoing effort to build a launch system for small satellites. The first attempt, which took place in May 2020, failed seconds after the rocket left the aircraft.

Virgin Orbit has announced it will attempt the feat again on December 19 during a four-hour window from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or during a similar time frame the following day. The aircraft will take off from Virgin Orbit’s base in California’s Mojave Desert before heading out over the Pacific to ignite the 70-foot-long LauncherOne rocket.

Read more
How to watch Blue Origin launch and land its reusable rocket on Tuesday
blue origin nails another rocket mission ahead of space tourism flights new shepard

It’s not just SpaceX that has been hard at work developing a reusable rocket system.

Blue Origin, established by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has also created a rocket that can land upright shortly after launch.

Read more
Rocket startup Astra makes its first launch but fails to reach orbit
Astra's Rocket 3.1 leaving the pad at the Kodiak launch site

New satellite delivery and launch company Astra attempted its first orbital launch late on Friday night with mixed results. The rocket, code-named Rocket 3.1, launched successfully but failed to reach orbit due to a problem during the first stage burn.

"Successful lift off and fly out, but the flight ended during the first stage burn," the company confirmed on Twitter. "It does look like we got a good amount of nominal flight time. More updates to come!"

Read more