A Delta IV Heavy rocket with a US government spy satellite finally launched in orbit Saturday from California. Technical faults and adverse weather had forced the mission to be nixed several times since early December.
The launch of the top secret national security load had been scrubbed several times since last year due to technical issues and adverse weather conditions. including the ground winds.
The promise out of the base northwest of los angeles took place just days after a series of storms pounded it central california region with heavy rain and wind.
There were mostly clear skies on Saturday that allowed people to see the rocket's contrails from southern and central California, including Los Angeles.
"Congratulations to our team and mission partners to deliver this critical asset to support national security tasks, "said Gary Wentz, ULA Vice President of Government and Commercial Programs in a Release.
According to the ULA, the mission – NROL-71 – is the firm's 132th successful launch when it was formed in December 2006. Details of the mission were not given.
The 233-foot Delta IV rocket is the heaviest vehicle in the ULA fleet and can produce more than 2.1 million pounds of shock and is powered by Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A main engines. The rocket, which weighs about 1.6 million pounds when fully burnt, uses the Aerojet's RL10B-2 propulsion system to drive its second phase.
A hydrogen leak in one of the engines was blamed for a scrubbed launch of the mission on December 19. A launch scheduled for December 8 was also canceled for technical reasons.
ULA said the next scheduled launch is for the Air Force and involves a Delta IV rocket. The launch of the mission, WGS-10, is scheduled for March 13 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
-The Associated Press contributed to this report.