United Launch Alliance says it will be at least a week before it can try again to launch an expensive spy satellite from Cape Canaveral. Its Delta IV Heavy rocket automatically aborted starting its engines just three seconds before liftoff early Saturday. The launch had already been postponed from its Aug. 27 planned liftoff. In the Saturday attempt, the engines briefly ignited but were shut down when a fault was detected. It would appear the expensive payload and its transportation to space can still be used.
“The bird is in good health,” ULA CEO Tory Bruno said in a tweet. “This was an automatic abort during the ignition sequence. Cause appears to have been in the ground system. System functioned as intended to protect the vehicle and payload.” ULA is a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The payload is designated as the NROL-44 satellite and is highly classified but it must be a big one. The Delta IV Heavy is only used for the heaviest payloads and can take 62,540 pounds to low Earth orbit or 30,440 pounds to geostationary orbit.