Countdown underway for Delta IV rocket launch

6:01 PM, May 24, 2013   |    comments
A Delta IV rocket is being prepped for launch tonight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station / United Launch Alliance
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CAPE CANAVERAL, FL (Florida Today) - Countdown for the planned launch Friday of a Delta IV rocket is under way at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after 24-hour delay to fix a technical problem.

The 217-foot-tall United Launch Alliance rocket is scheduled to blast off from Launch Complex 37 at 8:27 p.m. - the opening of a 30-minute launch window.

The forecast for launch is very good. Meteorologists say there is an 80 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for launch. The prime concern is a slight chance of isolated showers in the area during the launch window.

Meteorologists also are keeping an eye on "space weather." There is a slight chance strong solar flares could exceed launch limits.

The Delta IV rocket will be hauling up a new $342 million U.S. military communications satellite.

The Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft is the fifth in a series of Boeing-built satellites that provide high-capacity broadband communications to the U.S. Department of Defense, the White House and U.S. and allied troops around the world.

An initial launch attempt Thursday was scrubbed prior to propellant-loading operations when engineers detected a leak in a helium pressurization line. The leak was pinpointed and has been fixed and the launch pad at Complex 37 has been cleared of all personnel.

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