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Default NROL-25 atop Delta IV, April 3, 2012
by IronRain 03-21-2012, 07:31 AM

A Delta 4 will launch the NROL-25 satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive government agency that designs and operates the country's fleet of orbiting spy satellites. The nickname of the satellite will be 'Altair'

The exact launch time hasn't been revealed (yet) but officials say that the launch will occur between 2 and 5:15 p.m. local time (5-8:15 p.m. EDT; 2100-0015 GMT).

The satellite will be launched in the Delta IVM+ (5,2) configuration which means it has a 5 diameter payload fairing and 2 solid rocket boosters. It's the first time the Delta IV will fly in this configuration.

This will be the 3rd ULA launch this year, the 19th Delta IV launch and the 59th launch for ULA.





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Old 03-27-2012, 04:18 PM   #2
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Spaceflight Now:
  • Launch warnings show Delta 4 headed for backwards orbit:
    Quote:
    All systems remain "go" for Thursday's launch of the Delta 4 rocket carrying a reconnaissance satellite for U.S. national security, apparently bound for an unusual retrograde orbit around the Earth.

    The official Notices to Airmen, or NOTAMs, released to the public this week to establish clear warning zones around the rocket's flight path indicate the booster is headed southwestward from Vandenberg Air Force Base on its trek downrange.

    {...}
  • Mission Status Center:
    Quote:
    The latest weather forecast says it is still looking windy for the Delta 4 rocket's launch opportunity Thursday afternoon, causing meteorologists to give only a 30 percent chance of conditions being within limits to permit a liftoff.

    The outlook for the 3:30 p.m. local time launch calls for some broken high cirrus clouds at 25,000 feet, 7 miles of visibility, a temperature between 59-64 degrees F and the northwesterly winds of 12 to 18 knots, peaking to 22 to 25 knots. Upper level winds will max out at 50 knots from the west around 37,000 feet.

    For the backup launch opportunity on Friday, meteorologists have improved the odds of acceptable winds from a mere 10 percent in yesterday's forecast to 30 percent in today's prediction.

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Old 03-28-2012, 06:17 AM   #3
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Spaceflight Now: Delta 4 poised for one last 'first flight' milestone

Quote:
A maiden flight of sorts for the lone configuration of the Delta 4 rocket that has not yet been utilized will take to the skies from America's western spaceport Thursday afternoon, weather permitting, on a mission carrying a classified spy satellite.

Comprised of medium- to heavy-lifting vehicles, the Delta 4 family has five members with increasing levels of performance for hauling larger and more massive payloads to any desired orbit.

Since debuting in November 2002, rockets with no strap-on solid motors, some with two boosters and others with the maximum of four, nose cones in both four- and five-meter diameter options, and the mighty triple-barrel version with three core stages strapped together have flown successfully.

Now, this week's flight will put the puzzle pieces together to form the Delta 4 Medium+ (5,2) rocket, a towering 217-foot-tall launcher with a hydrogen-fueled first stage and two solid-propellant boosters mounted on the sides, a cryogenic upper stage and nose shroud five meters wide.

{...}
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Old 03-29-2012, 01:40 AM   #4
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There's a one day slip to this launch. The launch is now scheduled on March 30 at 3:38 pm PDT (22:38 UTC).

Quote:
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (March 28, 2012) The launch of a Delta IV carrying a national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office is delayed 24 hours. During close out for launch, the team observed an upper stage engine condition that will require additional time for review. The launch is set for Friday, March 30 from Space Launch Complex-6 at 3:38 p.m. PDT Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The weather forecast for March 30 shows a 30 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.
Meanwhile, here's a goodie for you guys: a scenario for the Delta IV add-on by Thomas of this launch at T-5 minutes (of course I've used a generic satellite payload, but the mass should be correct to the nearest two tonnes or so). To launch it to the orbit predicted by amateur observers, use these data for the autopilot:

Apogee target: 1100 km
Inclination: 123 degrees
Heading correction term: 5.01
Launch towards descending node

Code:
BEGIN_DESC
 A = Autopilot

 J = Jettison stages

 F = Jets fairing

 K = work satilite's solar panels 

 M = Mobile Service Tower / Config menu


*****  CUSTOM PAYLOAD  *****

 
 PAYLOAD      sets payloads CFG file location

 MESH         sets payload mesh 

 Z_OFFSET     sets the offset for the payload

 PLDWEIGHT    weight of payload

 Fairing_attached  1 = true / 0 = false (used to launch the dg)

 Disable_Base_Animation  Set to 1 if not using SLC6 or LC37.
  
END_DESC

BEGIN_ENVIRONMENT
  System Sol
  Date MJD 56016.939583
END_ENVIRONMENT

BEGIN_FOCUS
  Ship Delta4M52
END_FOCUS

BEGIN_CAMERA
  TARGET Delta4M52
  MODE Extern
  POS 5.47 -121.27 80.03
  TRACKMODE GlobalFrame
  FOV 45.08
END_CAMERA

BEGIN_HUD
  TYPE Surface
END_HUD

BEGIN_MFD Left
  TYPE Orbit
  PROJ Ship
  FRAME Ecliptic
  REF Earth
END_MFD

BEGIN_MFD Right
  TYPE Surface
  SPDMODE 1
END_MFD

BEGIN_SHIPS
ISS:ProjectAlpha_ISS
  STATUS Orbiting Earth
  RPOS -5789696.57 -2862840.65 1930010.38
  RVEL -3676.254 6648.831 -1164.163
  AROT 30.00 0.00 50.00
  AFCMODE 7
  IDS 0:588 100 1:586 100 2:584 100 3:582 100 4:580 100
  NAVFREQ 0 0
  XPDR 466
END
Luna-OB1:Wheel
  STATUS Orbiting Moon
  RPOS -1610240.47 1552011.11 2866.58
  RVEL -1027.897 -1065.834 3.491
  AROT 0.00 0.00 -152.60
  AFCMODE 7
  IDS 0:560 100 1:564 100
  XPDR 494
END
SH-03:ShuttleA
  STATUS Landed Earth
  POS -82.4981414 22.9914604
  HEADING 70.00
  AFCMODE 7
  PRPLEVEL 0:1.000000 1:1.000000
  NAVFREQ 0 0
  XPDR 0
  PODANGLE 0.0000 0.0000
  DOCKSTATE 0 0.0000
  AIRLOCK 0 0.0000
  GEAR 0 0.0000
  PAYLOAD MASS 0.0 0
END
Delta4M52:delta4/Delta4M52
  STATUS Landed Earth
  POS -120.6254000 34.5806300
  HEADING 90.00
  AFCMODE 7
  PRPLEVEL 0:1.000000
  NAVFREQ 0 0
  PAYLOAD delta4/sat1
  MESH delta4/sat1
  Z_OFFSET 4.312422
  CONFIG 0.000000
  PLDWEIGHT 4750.000000
  Fairing_attached 1
  missiontime 0.000000
END
LC6:delta4/lpad2
  STATUS Landed Earth
  POS -120.6254000 34.5806300
  HEADING 180.00
  AFCMODE 7
  PRPLEVEL 0:1.000000
  THLEVEL 1:1.000000
END
GL-02:DeltaGlider
  STATUS Landed Mars
  BASE Olympus:3
  POS -135.4300000 12.7366196
  HEADING 0.00
  AFCMODE 7
  PRPLEVEL 0:1.000000 1:1.000000
  NAVFREQ 0 0 0 0
  XPDR 0
  GEAR 1 1.0000
  AAP 0:0 0:0 0:0
END
SH-01:ShuttleA
  STATUS Landed Moon
  BASE Brighton Beach:1
  POS -33.4374999 41.1184069
  HEADING 0.00
  AFCMODE 7
  PRPLEVEL 0:1.000000 1:1.000000
  NAVFREQ 0 0
  XPDR 0
  PODANGLE 0.0000 0.0000
  DOCKSTATE 0 0.0000
  AIRLOCK 0 0.0000
  GEAR 0 0.0000
  PAYLOAD MASS 0.0 0
END
END_SHIPS

Last edited by Galactic Penguin SST; 03-29-2012 at 01:52 AM.
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:27 AM   #5
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Old 03-30-2012, 01:50 AM   #6
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Delays continued to appear.....

Quote:
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (March 29, 2012) – The launch of a Delta IV carrying a national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office is delayed until April 2 for the team to complete their assessment of an observation on the upper stage engine. The launch is planned for Monday, April 2 from Space Launch Complex-6 at 4:04 p.m. PDT Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
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Old 03-31-2012, 11:17 PM   #7
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Spaceflight Now: Delta 4 rocket awaits launch on NROL-25 (PHOTO GALLERY #2)
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:26 AM   #8
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Now scheduled on April 3rd.

Quote:
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (April 1, 2012) – The launch of a Delta IV carrying a national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office is delayed until April 3. The team is continuing to review data from an observation on the upper stage engine and requires additional time to complete its final assessment prior to launch. The launch is now planned for Tuesday, April 3 from Space Launch Complex-6 at 4:12 p.m. PDT Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The forecast shows a 40 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.
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Old 04-03-2012, 06:39 AM   #9
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Spaceflight Now:

Quote:
After several days of precautionary analysis and reviews, the Delta 4 rocket has been cleared for blastoff Tuesday afternoon at 4:12 p.m. local time (7:12 p.m. EDT; 2312 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The classified mission to launch a surveillance satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office was postponed from last week to verify the deployable nozzle system on the vehicle's upper stage. Once the first stage drops away just over four minutes into flight, the carbon-carbon extendible nozzle that is stowed during liftoff slides down into place on the RL10B-2 engine for ignition.

During pre-launch closeouts of the barrel-like interstage compartment between the two stages, where the nozzle is housed, an operation caused some unplanned movement on the nozzle system. Inspections and assessments conducted the past few days have ensured there was no harm done to the flight hardware.

At a Monday afternoon gathering of launch officials, the final review was completed and approval granted to move into the countdown activities overnight.

Retraction of the mobile service gantry from the Delta 4 to reveal the rocket will occur before dawn. The Terminal Count commences at 9:42 a.m. local (12:42 p.m. EDT) and cryogenic fueling of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the two-stage booster begins a short time later.

Tuesday appears to offer the best weather conditions for the next several days. Forecasters are predicting a 60 percent chance of allowable winds for the rocket to fly.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:42 PM   #10
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Now 30 minutes away from the planned for today's launch.


Webcast:



NASASpaceflight: LIVE: ULA Delta IV set to launch the NROL-25 military satellite from VAFB


Spaceflight Now:
SPACE.com: Launch Photos: Spy Satellite NROL-25 Blasts Off on Delta 4 Rocket





This will be:
  • The 359th Delta rocket launch since 1960
  • The 19th Delta 4 rocket mission since 2002
  • The 4th Delta 4 rocket launch from Vandenberg
  • The 15th use of Delta 4 by the Air Force
  • The first Medium+ 5,2 configuration to fly
  • The second launch of the Delta family in 2012
  • The 59th United Launch Alliance mission since 2006
  • The 12th Delta 4 under the ULA banner
  • The 6th classified Delta 4 for the NRO
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:01 PM   #11
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Hmmm..... ULA's launch animation seems to be slightly worse than Orbiter's. (at least they have better ground models...)
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:07 PM   #12
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Polling - all GO for launch.
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:09 PM   #13
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T-4 minutes and counting.
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:13 PM   #14
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Liftoff!
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Old 04-03-2012, 11:24 PM   #15
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After fairing jettison the Delta IV rocket has flown into a news blackout.

The precise liftoff time was 23:12:57.278 UTC.
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