To round off the end of the work week, the United Launch Alliance plans tonight to launch a military satellite from Florida, representing the company's second flight of the year. ULA's Delta IV rocket will loft a communications satellite called the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-10) for the US Air Force. And it's one of the last times this special rocket takes off.
This is the 10th Air Force satellite of its kind. In space, the WGS-10 will meet with nine other spacecraft in the Wideband Global SATCOM constellation, all for the communications of military personnel, the US State Department, and US international partners and more are provided. Unlike some predecessors of the satellite, however, the WGS-1
The Delta IV now flies the vehicle's Medium + version, and there will be four small rocket boosters on the base to give the rocket an extra boost on takeoff. Ultimately, ULA will shut down the Delta IV medium, and tonight's mission will be the penultimate time a vehicle of this type flies. However, ULA will continue to maintain a fleet of the heavier version of the vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, which consists of three strapped rocket cores. But soon, the single-core Delta IV will be out of service.
Today's mission is to lift off at 18:56 ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. ULA has a start window that lasts almost two hours, allowing the Delta IV to take off until 21:05 PM ET. The weather seems to work for the mission, as the 80 percent chance of favorable conditions applies. ULA's flight coverage starts at 18:36 ET, so check out Happy Hour to see how this rocket goes into orbit.