Delta IV Lifts WGS Satellite to Orbit

A Delta IV rocket takes off from the Cape carrying the seventh WGS satellite. (Photo: United Launch Alliance, LLC)

A Delta IV rocket roared off its Cape Canaveral launch pad at 8:07 p.m. ET on Thursday evening, July 23, powered by a new, upgraded main engine, to place the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) communications satellite into orbit.

“The countdown was relatively uneventful from a launch vehicle standpoint, but a second consecutive day of typical Florida summertime thunderstorms made things interesting for the launch team,” said Aerospace Vice President of Space Launch Operations Randy Kendall, reporting from the Cape. “It was a little touch and go with the weather, but I’d much rather have to worry about the weatherman than the launch vehicle.”

This particular launch vehicle was flying in the Medium+ (5,4) configuration, with a five-meter fairing and four strap-on solid rocket motors. Its main engine was the new Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A, which delivers 702,000 pounds of liftoff thrust, compared with 663,000 pounds for the RS-68.

According to Kendall, “the vehicle lifted off from SLC-37B right at the opening of the launch window, and the spacecraft was successfully separated into its geosynchronous transfer orbit about 42 minutes later.” The spacecraft is a high-capacity military communications satellite built in El Segundo by Boeing Satellite Systems.

Kendall congratulated the team, saying, “great job today by the integrated launch and satellite team executing a modified countdown procedure to work around some weather early in the count.”