Saturday, January 17, 2009

Delta IV-H Launches from the Cape Tonight

A United Space Alliance Delta IV-Heavy turned the night sky over Cape Canaveral into brief day light tonight as it pushed a military satellite into earth orbit.

The bright orange glaze over Cape Canaveral began as the Delta IV-H left her launch pad at 9:47 pm EST. Three liquid fueled boosters gave the 1.6 million pound gross vehicle the necessary lift.

Tonight's sucessful launch marked the 337th Delta rocket launch; and only the second operational Delta IV-H launch. The last occurred in November 2007.

The payload - a military satellite known as Orion - will work on station in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the equator. It will become operational following a few weeks of on-orbit check outs. This orbital altitude will allow for the satellite to stay at one fixed point as it orbits as the earth spins.

Orion was built by the National Reconnaissance Office and this flight was designated NROL-26.

Beginning now, the rest of the launch phase is in a military news blackout. We will never know if the Orion payload reached its intended orbit, however the main launch phase was nominal.

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