Less than a month after SpaceX lost a rocket and payload to a launch explosion at Cape Canaveral, United Launch Alliance is experiencing historic delays on its WorldView-4 mission launch.
The WorldView-4, a DigitalGlobe observation satellite, was scheduled to launch on an Atlas-V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 16 but has been delayed several times. The Friday launch was in its final moments of countdown when staff noticed a liquid hydrogen leak on one of the propellant tanks had caused an ice ball to form on a coolant tube. United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno tweeted, then later deleted:
“Very small ground side LH2 leak. Forming an ice ball on the umbilical. Outside our history. Standing down attempt today to resolve,” Spaceflight Insider reported.
The launch was postponed until Sunday, then moved back again early that morning due to wildfires in the region. NASA reports that the earliest possible launch date is Sept. 26.
Recent delays aside, the WorldView-4 has been a project underway since 2006. The satellite was originally designed for GeoEye Incorporated as the GeoEye-2. When GeoEye and DigitalGlobe merged in 2013, just four months ahead of launch, the GeoEye-2 launch was postponed in favor of DigitalGlobe’s Worldview-3 satellite. By 2015, DigitalGlobe decided again to rename the GeoEye-2 to WorldView-4 and set a date for 2016.
The WorldView-4 launch will mark ULA’s 9th launch of 2016 and 66th launch with the Atlas V rocket.
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