Rocket Launch of U.S. Spy Satellite Again Delayed at Vandenberg Air Force Base

The launch of a rocket carrying a national security satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base was delayed multiple times Thursday and ultimately postponed till Friday.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket with a National Reconnaissance Office payload was originally set for Wednesday but was delayed until Thursday due to high winds, according to the base website.

It was again delayed for more than an hour on Thursday but was scheduled for 1:55 p.m. PT, and then again for 2:05 p.m. PT. Just minutes before that time, the launch was placed on hold, United Launch Alliance said on Twitter.

A new launch time was set for 4:59 p.m., several minutes before sunset. Before that time came, the company said the launch was “scrubbed for the day.” It was rescheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.

The launch for mission NROL-47 was set to take place at Space Launch Complex-6, about 10 miles west of Lompoc and 140 miles west-northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

It will be United Launch Alliance’s 27th for the National Reconnaissance Office, and the 36th flight for a Delta IV rocket since the first in 2002, according to the company’s website.

“We are ready and eager to take on this Delta launch,” said Col. Greg Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander, in a base news release. “We are proud to provide this national defense capability and every Team V member involved has tirelessly worked to ensure the launch is safe and successful.”

The launch of a a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-4 on Dec. 22 created a spectacular sight across Southern California skies at dusk, prompting immediate speculation about the mysterious shape of the rocket’s trail – and many, many posts on social media.