ULA's Rocket Launch Aborted Just 3 Seconds Before Liftoff

The next launch could happen in seven days.
Fabienne Lang

United Launch Alliance's (ULA) Delta 4 Heavy rocket remains grounded even though it was due to launch up to the skies on August 29th. 

Just three seconds before liftoff from Cape Canaveral, the entire thing was called off as the rocket's initiators caught flames, per 24LiveBlog. The NROL-44 mission carrying a secret National Reconnaissance Office payload will have to wait before it jets off into space. 


Last minute fall through

No further information as to what went wrong has been shared publicly yet, but at least a full week is required before another attempt to launch is made. 

ULA's rocket was meant to transport a National Reconnaissance Office secret payload, which is believed to include a signal intelligence satellite, per Engadget.

The abort was triggered automatically after a fire blazed through one of the Heavy 4 Rocket's engines.

As per ULA's CEO, Tony Bruno's post on Twitter, the rocket is in "good shape" and the "cause appears to be in the ground system." The automatic abort function works well, so it seems. 

This was ULA's third attempt to launch this mission. Per SpaceNews, the first push back came from the client on August 26th, followed by another delay on August 27th due to a technical error linked to the ground pneumatics control system. 

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On August 29th, the day of the final launch, there was another little delay. The launch was due to take off at 2:04 a.m. but was delayed until 3:28 a.m. Eastern because of a thermal anomaly of a lower temperature found in one of the rocket's compartments. 

We'll have to sit tight until ULA gets to the bottom of the issue and before we can see the actual liftoff happen, hopefully sometime soon.

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