ULA Delays Launch of Air Force Satellite Due to Delta 4 Booster Issue

Air Force's WGS-8 military communications satellite
The Air Force's WGS-8 military communications satellite awaits launch aboard a ULA Delta 4 rockets early in the afternoon of Dec. 7, 2016 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. ULA announced it is delaying the launch of WGS-9 due to a problem discovered in the first stage booster. (Image credit: ULA)

WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance announced Saturday it is delaying the launch of a Delta 4 rocket carrying a military communications satelliteuntil it can fix a first stage booster issue.

The launch was scheduled for March 8, carrying WGS-9, the Air Force's next Wideband Global Satcom satellite. However the company said it was delaying the launch due to a "first stage booster issue discovered during standard prelaunch inspections." The company did not disclose additional details about the problem.

The earliest possible date for the rescheduled launch is March 14, ULA said.

"This additional time will allow the ULA team to ensure all systems are operating nominally prior to launch," said ULA spokeswoman Lyn Chassagne in a statement. "A new launch date will be released once it is established."

The Delta 4 is set to take off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Speaking to reporters before the launch of the previous satellite, WGS-8, Thomas Becht, the deputy director for MILSATCOM systems at the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, said WGS features "broadcast, multicast, and point to point connections anytime at anywhere around the world" as well as supporting "X- and Ka- band communications simultaneously and seamlessly connect the two bands."

It will also feature several spot beams that will aid in cutting through jamming attempts. Starting with WGS-8, the Boeing-built satellites also carry a digital channelizer that provides an estimated 45 percent more bandwidth than older WGS satellites.

This story was provided by SpaceNews, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.

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Phillip Swarts
Contributing Writer

Phillip Swarts covered the military, national security and government contracting in space for Space News from 2016 to 2017. A master's graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Swarts's work can also be found at The Washington Times and Air Force Times. More recently, he has worked as a teacher for the Arlington Public School District.