4 rocket launches planned this week, conditions permitting

Pablo Tucker
December 20, 2018

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry a new Global Positioning System satellite into orbit around Earth on Tuesday - the first of several launches scheduled for the day.

ULA's Delta IV Heavy launch is still on the books for later today, and if successful, could mark the start of a fantastic day of rocket launches. You can watch the launch live at Blue Origin's webcast page or watch the live stream below. Blue Origin, too, said it meant to fly the tenth mission of its New Shepard Launch system from West Texas.

SpaceX had a Falcon 9 rocket set poised and ready (with the Vice-President of the United States watching from nearby) to launch but an "out of family" sensor reading on the rocket's first stage prompted mission managers to call of today's (Dec. 18, 2018) attempt to send the GPS SV01 (Vespucci) navigational satellite.

On Tuesday, SpaceX halted the planned launch minutes before liftoff due to a technical issue, though it said afterward the rocket and payload "remain healthy". The launch was scrapped due to issues with the rocket's ground infrastructure.

By around 8am ET, Arianespace said it was scrubbing the launch of a Russian-made Soyuz launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center in South America due to "high-altitude wind conditions". The GPS III program was authorized in 2000 in conjunction with the U.S. Congress. "The vehicle is in good standing", the. "Stand by for updates as we see what weather looks like for tomorrow", the company tweeted. United Launch Alliance still has a mission scheduled for Tuesday evening. But what about that fourth one? It is scheduled to launch the new USA spy satellite NROL-71 into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office tonight at 8:57 p.m. EST (0157 December 19 GMT) from a pad at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Wednesday's launch would have been SpaceX's 21st for the year - a record.

In 2017, the Hawthorne, California-based company launched payloads for the Department of Defense that were not designated as a National Security Space missions. "At the conclusion of the meeting, senior leaders were polled and gave a unanimous "go" for launch".

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