The launch of a new U.S. spy satellite on a massive Delta IV Heavy rocket has been delayed at least a week after a last-minute abort prevented an attempted liftoff early Saturday (Aug. 29).
The abort occurred just three seconds before the planned launch of the clandestine NROL-44 satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 3:28 a.m. EDT (0728 GMT), according to the United Launch Alliance, which built the heavy-lift Delta IV Heavy. The rocket’s triple-core first stage briefly fired up its three main engines, engulfing the booster’s base in flames before flickering out in the abort.
“3, 2, 1 and liftoff!” ULA commentator Dillon Rice said as the engines fired. A few seconds later, it was clear something went wrong as the Delta IV Heavy remained on the pad of its Space Launch Complex 37B.
“And standby, we’ve obviously had a hotfire abort,” Dillon said.