Rocket launch to carry spy satellites into space

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The launch of a rocket carrying a national security satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base that was delayed multiple times this week is expected Friday shortly after 2 p.m.

It was initially scheduled to launch on January 10 and later January 11, but was delayed twice due to weather conditions and technical issues.

It marked the 27th NRO launch by United Launch Alliance, which is a Colorado-based aerospace partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The forecast shows a 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The secretive nature of this launch is attributed to the fact that it is a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in support of the national defense. As a classified mission, information about the satellite and its orbit is limited. It performs launch services for the US government at Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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The airliner vanished nearly four years ago while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board. Before vanishing in the Indian Ocean, it was last detected over northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

The launch will happen at Space Launch Complex-6, which sits about 140 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.

The rocket was supposed to launch on Wednesday but high winds and then equipment problems caused several delays. Each configuration is comprised of a common booster core (CBC), a cryogenic upper stage and either a 4-m-diameter or 5-m-diameter payload fairing (PLF).

"We are ready and eager to take on this Delta launch", said Col. Greg Wood, 30th Space Wing vice commander, in a base news release. It was also the 36th flight of the Delta IV rocket since its inaugural launch in 2002. After staging, an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 granted some 24,750 pounds of thrust, sending the Delta IV's upper stage to orbit. The NRO publicized the launch with generic tweets, saying the mission was the first of two planned by the agency this year.