HAWTHORNE (CBSLA) – The Southland was deprived again Wednesday of an aerospace light show after a planned rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County was scrubbed for the fourth time.
The United Launch Alliance rocket carrying a reconnaissance satellite had been set to take off at 5:44 p.m. The launch was first delayed by five minutes, then it was scrubbed altogether less than 10 minutes to takeoff.
ULA did not immediately give an official reason for the delay.
Spaceflight Now reported that the scrub was prompted by a suspected hydrogen leak in the port booster engine section of the Delta IV Heavy rocket.
The launch was tentatively reset for 5:31 p.m. Thursday.
Wednesday was the fourth time the mission has been delayed. On Tuesday night, a planned launch was scrubbed due to high winds. On Dec. 8, the launch was scrubbed just 7.5 seconds before its scheduled liftoff due to a technical glitch. An operational problem had caused a delay in the launch one day prior to that.
Launches from Vandenberg, especially those carried out after sundown, typically create impressive aerial light shows over Southern California and the southwestern United States.
The Delta IV Heavy rocket will be carrying a secretive satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
“We are proud to launch this critical payload in support of our nation’s national security mission,” Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of government and commercial programs, said in a statement prior to the two delays. “As the nation’s premiere launch provider, the teams have worked diligently to ensure continued mission success, delivering our customer’s payloads to the precise orbits requested.”
According to the company, the Delta IV Heavy rocket includes three Rocketdyne liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines that can produce a combined 2.1 million pounds of thrust.
ULA has carried out 27 launches for the National Reconnaissance Office over the past 12 years.
A mysterious light trail in the sky was spotted across California around the same time of the scheduled launch Wednesday night. KCAL9’s Evelyn Taft reports the light is believed to have been ice crystals that formed when a meteor hit the Earth’s atmosphere.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)