Launch Photos: Delta IV Launches WGS-9 Military Communications Satellite

Looking Down

United Launch Alliance

A view looking down at the ULA Delta IV rocket during launchpad rollout operations ahead of the WGS-9 launch.

Rolling Out

United Launch Alliance

The Delta IV rocket carrying the WGS-9 military communications satellite rolls into launch position at Space Launch Complex-37.

Fits Like A Glove

United Launch Alliance

The United States Air Force's Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) satellite fits snuggly into United Launch Alliance's Delta IV 5-meter payload fairing. The satellite is set for an evening launch on March 18, 2017 from Cape Canaveral.

Section Ready

United Launch Alliance

The WGS-9 satellite awaits the other half of the Delta IV payload fairing. The payload is a $442 million satellite by Boeing designed to extend the military's Global Broadcast service.

Piecing It Together

United Launch Alliance

As the payload fairing is brought together, the satellite is secured and ready for the March 18, 2017 launch. The WGS-9 will be part of a larger network of satellites gathering and directing information to thousands of sites across the world for the U.S. military and even U.S. allies.

Completing the Puzzle

United Launch Alliance

After securing the WGS-9, sections of the Delta IV 5-meter payload fairing are closed and sealed. The satellite is scheduled to launch on March 18, 2017. This single satellite could completely replace the WGS network's predecessor — the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS).

A Step Closer to Liftoff

United Launch Alliance

Teammembers encapsulate the WGS-9 satellite in the Delta IV payload fairing, preparing for the March 18, 2017 launch from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex-37. The launch will be broadcast live.

Team Checks Underway

United Launch Alliance

Teammembers complete final inspections in preparation for the launch. The WGS-9 satellite sits safely inside the payload fairing atop the Delat IV rocket at the Mobile Service Tower at Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex-37. This launch is the thirty-fifth launch of the Delta IV since 2002.

Resting Before Liftoff

United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance's Delta IV booster holds the U.S. Air Force's ninth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) satellite inside its payload fairing. The set waits inside the Mobile Service Tower at Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral for the March 18, 2017 launch. The WGS network transmits video, images and data between ships, aircraft, ground forces, operations centers, the U.S. Department of State, the White House and more.

Raised and Ready

United Launch Alliance

Inside the Mobile Service Tower, the WGS-9 undergoes preparations for the March 18, 2017 launch. This launch is the seventh flight of the Delta IV in this configuration, all seven of which delivered the WGS satellites into orbit.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.