An ongoing issue related to a fire with a radar tracking system downrange of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station has pushed back this week’s planned launch of a classified National Reconnaissance Office payload for a third time today, forcing United Launch Alliance (ULA) to roll their workhorse Atlas-V rocket and its secretive cargo off the launch pad and back into its Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Space Launch Complex-41 to wait a few more weeks before another launch attempt is made.
The top-secret spacecraft, identified simply as NROL-67, needs the “mandatory range asset” in question for providing coverage during the spacecraft’s fiery ascent to orbit, and today’s delay was made to give the 45th Space Wing more time to continue working repairs on the range equipment.
Launch is now scheduled for no earlier than Thursday, April 10, 2014.
Neither ULA, the NRO, or the 45th Space Wing have released any further details, and there is no official word yet whether or not the range issues in question are exclusive to this launch/spacecraft or will also affect this weekend’s planned SpaceX launch to resupply the International Space Station for NASA. However, an updated media events schedule for this weekend’s SpaceX launch, which was sent by NASA today, assumes the launch is still GO for Sunday evening from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex-40.
Due to the secretive nature of the payload and its mission no further details are available at this time.