Saturday, December 05, 2009

Delta IV Launches Advanced Air Force Satellite

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket waited out multiple launch delays this week and lifted-off at the last minute tonight on a successful flight to deliver an advanced military communications satellite into orbit.

Weather and a technical glitch delayed this 11th launch of a Delta IV by several days, and again high winds pushed the launch time this evening from the the first minute of the launch window to the final minute.

The third Delta IV launch of the year ignited her main core engine and four solid rocket boosters and departed Florida's Space Coast at 8:47 pm EST, with the Air Force's Wideband Global SATCOM 3 satellite.

As the white and rust-orange colored Delta IV climbed higher into the dark Atlantic sky, the four rocket boosters -- having burned it's propellant -- dropped two at a time from the core main stage 104 seconds into the flight. The vehicle was passing through 22 nautical miles altitude at the time.

The RS-68 main engine continued it's burn for another two minutes & 25 seconds as it flew south eastward out over the Atlantic Ocean and toward the west coast of central Africa.

The WGS-3 separated from the Delta's upper stage on time as it flew 1,415 nm over northeastern Angola, Africa at 9:27:39 pm.

The WGS-3 is more than a high tech communications relay satellite, but a high speed data transfer relay. It will be able to transmit data packets at speeds between 2.4 and 3.6 gigabytes per second.

The spacecraft will ba able to cover 19 regions of the eastern hemisphere, and will operate in the 500 Mhz X-band and the 1 GHz of the Ka-band.

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