ULA Calls Off 2nd Attempt to Launch Spy Satellite from Vandenberg Air Force 7 Seconds Before Liftoff

The countdown stopped 7 seconds before liftoff Saturday as a Delta IV Heavy rocket sat poised on its launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base for a second attempt to launch a spy satellite into orbit on behalf of the National Reconnaissance Office.

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket sits on its launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base ahead of the planned launch of a National Reconnaissance Office satellite on Dec. 8, 2018. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket sits on its launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base ahead of the planned launch of a National Reconnaissance Office satellite on Dec. 8, 2018. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

United Launch Alliance scrubbed a planned launch in the final seconds after detecting a problem, ULA said via Twitter.  A previous attempt to launch the 233-foot-tall rocket on Friday was scrubbed about three hours before launch.

Small flames could be seen igniting at the base of the engines before they quickly disappeared The rocket remained still.

With favorable weather conditions, Saturday’s launch was originally slated for 8:06 p.m., but a brief stop in the countdown to troubleshoot a problem pushed the liftoff back to 8:15 p.m., the company said.

All systems were “go” until the countdown was halted just seven seconds before liftoff after a problem was detected, ULA said. The attempt was cancelled for the night, but it was not clear when ULA will try again.

The rocket carries a secret payload. It is set to deploy a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.

ULA is working in conjunction with the Air Force’s 30th Space Wing on the launch, dubbed NROL-71.