New launch date announced for Delta 4-Heavy debut
BY JUSTIN RAY
Posted: October 10, 2004
The debut launch of Boeing's Delta 4-Heavy rocket has been rescheduled due to Florida's hurricane troubles this summer and three technical issues, company officials announced Friday.
Boeing had hoped the massive booster would fly in early July, but delays pushed the mission into September and then October.
Now, the liftoff is targeted for November 18 during a three-hour launch window that extends from 2:28 to 5:28 p.m. EST (1928-2228 GMT).
The rocket will carry dummy satellite and two tiny nanosatellites into orbit during this qualification flight financed by the U.S. Air Force. The launch is designed to verify the heavy-lift version of the Delta 4 fleet works correctly before critical national security spacecraft are entrusted to the booster starting next year.
This most recent postponement gives engineers time to address a handful of technical concerns.
"The revised launch date takes into account lost time for launch site personnel securing the Delta Launch facilities, including the SLC-37B launch complex, against three consecutive hurricanes, as well as post hurricane facility and launch vehicle inspections," Boeing said in a statement Friday.
"It also provides time for the Delta 4 team to perform minor vehicle hardware verification in preparation for launch, including removal and retest of Electronic Control Unit (ECU) boxes.
"In addition, the encapsulated payload is being de-mated from the Heavy Demo launch vehicle in order to remove and replace second stage ullage pressure transducers, and to ultrasonically inspect the composite Payload Adapter Fitting (PAF)."
The press statement did not indicate what prompted the concerns with the control units, transducers or payload fitting.
The rocket's cargo -- the 13,500-pound "DemoSat" and two canister-shaped nanosats -- were mounted atop the rocket in July.
A complete launch day simulation, called a wet dress rehearsal, is scheduled for later this month. The rocket's three liquid-fueled core boosters and upper stage will be loaded with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as the launch team follows a realistic countdown script.