The launch mission of the Delta IV Heavy rocket of the United Launch Alliance was aborted yet again. The launch was stopped just before a few seconds.
The abort of the rocket happened just before the ignition of the main RS-68 engines at T-7 seconds. Thankfully, the precious National Reconnaissance Office payload and the booster were said to be in a safe condition. The delay before the next launch occurs might be a week.
What is Delta IV Heavy?
The Delta IV Heavy is a space vehicle. It consists of three cores bound together to provide some additional thrust. It is one of the most powerful rockets in the whole world.
After approximately an hour after the break off the company said:
“The terminal countdown sequencer rack identified an unexpected condition prior to the engine start sequence. The TCSR, which controls the final 10 seconds of the countdown, performed as intended and safely initiated a hold at T-7 seconds.”
This abort of the NROL-44 mission is just the newest holdup to get the mission off the launch pad.
However, it is still ambiguous as to where the fault lies. Whether its on board the rocket or the ground systems, nobody knows. Reportedly, the ULA has been facing certain issues with the infrastructure of the launch pad at the Space Launch Complex-37. The latter maintains the Delta IV Heavy booster.
Not the first scrub off
Till now, the Delta IV Heavy’s launch has been halted just before it took off for three times. This is all due to the issues with the ground system which led to these many delayed instances. Some examples include the issues faced with the regulator which delivers the very essential high-pressure Helium on board the rocket also the arm retraction system of the launch pad. A hydraulic leak in the Mobile Service Tower is yet another problem.
On Wednesday, there have been some instances as to what the reason for the delays must be. The almost 20 years old ageing infrastructure of the launch pad or the relatively low flight rate of the Delta IV mission must be the reasons, reports say.
The launchpad company has already left the single-core Delta IV rockets. However, it intends to fly the Delta IV four more times just after the NROL-44 mission. Later it will get to the much more effective Vulcan-Centaur booster. Additionally, only 2 out of the 4 rockets will be released from the Space Launch Complex-37.
Before the Wednesday night’s delay, Tony Bruno the ULA Chief stated:
“The reduced Delta launch tempo is certainly a factor. We will be changing our operations readiness process for the remaining Delta IV Heavy missions in order to avoid the type of issues seen here.”