Range Issue Delays Launch of Classified Satellite

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UPDATED March 28 at 9:57 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON  — The scheduled March 25 launch from Florida of a classified payload aboard an Atlas 5 rocket has been delayed until no earlier than April 10 due to a down-range radar that overheated and stopped working, launch officials said.

According to a March 27 press release from the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Air Wing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a tracking radar experienced an electrical short, overheated and became unusable.

Repair will take approximately three weeks, the release said. The Air Force is also considering moving an inactive radar into service in order to help resume operations.

The delayed satellite is owned by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, which is responsible for the design, construction and operation of the nation’s intelligence-gathering satellites. The mission is known as NROL-67.

It is unclear what impact the radar issue will have on the launch schedule for the remainder of the year, the release said. “Early indications are all launches scheduled for FY14 will be supported,” the release said.

The rocket, an Atlas 5 541 configuration, was rolled back to the vertical integration facility at Cape Canaveral March 27.

 

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