CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — United Launch Alliance (ULA) is delaying the launch of an Atlas V mission 24 hours due to inclement weather from Hurricane Eta.
The launch, which was originally slated to take off on Nov. 3, has been delayed several times due to ground systems issues and poor weather conditions at the launch site. The team is now targeting Friday (Nov. 13) at 5:13 p.m. EST (2213 GMT), ULA officials tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.
"Due to impending weather and escalation of Hurricane Eta, ULA is now targeting Friday, Nov. 13, at 5:13 p.m. EST (2213 UTC) for the launch of the NROL-101 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office."
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Due to impending weather and escalation of Hurricane Eta, ULA is now targeting Fri., Nov. 13, at 5:13 p.m. EST for the launch of the #NROL101 mission for the @NatReconOfc.November 11, 2020
When it does launch, the two-stage rocket will blast off from Space Launch Complex 41 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying with it a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which manages the U.S. government's fleet of spy satellites.
Hardware issues prevented the Atlas from getting off the ground on Nov. 3, in what would have been a rare election night launch. Teams rolled the vehicle back to its integration facility for the repairs and were back out on the pad the next day.
An issue with the vehicle's fueling system prevented the rocket from being loaded with super chilled liquid oxygen, one of its propellants. Teams were forced to halt the countdown and troubleshoot the issue.
The most recent delay came as Tropical Storm Eta regained hurricane status on Tuesday (Nov. 10) and its path threatened to cut across the state of Florida. On Wednesday morning (Nov. 11), Hurricane Eta was downgraded to a tropical storm, however with its maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, teams decided it was safer to wait until Friday for lift off.
Weather conditions will improve greatly on Friday, with forecasters at the 45th Space Wing predicting an 80% chance of favorable launch conditions. With the only concerns being the potential for cumulus cloud formation.
If all goes as planned, the flight would mark ULA's fifth mission of the year. It could also mark a launch double header this weekend as NASA and SpaceX are planning to launch the agency's next astronaut mission on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7:49 p.m. EST (0049 GMT on Nov. 15).
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