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Top-secret Atlas V rocket launch at Vandenberg delayed by faulty battery

Watch a SpaceX rocket launch from Vandenberg

Vandenberg Air Force Base launched the Formosat-5 satellite on a SpaceX 9 rocket on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. The satellite was launched into orbit for the Taiwanese National Space Organization.
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Vandenberg Air Force Base launched the Formosat-5 satellite on a SpaceX 9 rocket on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. The satellite was launched into orbit for the Taiwanese National Space Organization.

A glitch delayed Thursday night’s departure of an Atlas V rocket and its top-secret spacecraft at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Liftoff of the United Launch Alliance rocket from Space Launch Complex-3 on South Base will not occur before Saturday, officials said Thursday afternoon.

“The delay allows the team time to replace a faulty battery on the Atlas V booster,” ULA officials said in a written statement. “The vehicle and spacecraft remain stable.”

Due to the delay, the blastoff time is expected to be several minutes earlier than Thursday’s planned 10:38 p.m. launch. The actual launch window remains top secret due to the cargo on board, but it is expected to be shorter than an hour.

Launch times are established based upon where a craft needs to be placed in space.

The Atlas rocket stands 20 stories high and weighs more than 1 million pounds fully fueled.

The space booster is slated to place a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office into orbit for a mission dubbed NROL-42.

This mission most recently had been postponed a week due to Hurricane Irma to allow United Launch Alliance workers helping at Vandenberg to return home to Florida to ensure their families and residences were safe and secure.

Due to safety reasons linked to the rocket’s flight path, Jalama Beach County Park will be evacuated from 8 p.m. to midnight when the mission occurs.

The Atlas V launch pad, notable with its gigantic white mobile service tower, is visible on the horizon looking south of Highway 246 from spots around the Lompoc Valley.

While Vandenberg has restricted access, there are several spots around the Lompoc Valley offering views including the peak of Harris Grade Road, West Ocean Avenue or locales in Vandenberg Village.

However, Vandenberg officials do not plan to open the Hawk’s Nest viewing site for this launch.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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