Rocket won't lift off from Vandenberg until at least Jan. 6
The team planning a rocket launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base has postponed the mission until at least Jan. 6.
The decision was announced Friday and came after several launches were delayed due to technical issues or unfavorable weather conditions.
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy launch was scrubbed Dec. 19 because of “indications of elevated hydrogen concentrations within the port booster engine section,” the company said on its website.
The company said the same problem continued Dec. 20 and pushed off the launch again.
There were previous delays earlier in the month due to technical issues and high winds before Dec. 19's liftoff from Space Launch Complex 6 at the Air Force base in Santa Barbara County was called off due to the hydrogen problem.
Vandenberg's sunset launches can be seen for hundreds of miles, and about the time of the planned launch on Dec. 19, folks in Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area and even farther south reported seeing a strange, shining, cloudlike squiggle in the sky. Astronomers say it wasn't a rocket launch but probably a meteor entering the atmosphere.
The rocket will carry a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, an intelligence agency in Virginia that operates Defense Department satellites.
The Delta IV stands 233 feet tall, weighs 1.6 million pounds and has more than 2 million pounds of thrust, according to United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Delta IV’s three-booster heavy configuration is typically used for heavy or high-priority loads.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.