WASHINGTON — The launch of an Air Force missile warning satellite didn’t go as planned Thursday as technical and range issues scrubbed the launch for a day.
Instead, the Air Force and United Launch Alliance will try to launch the rocket on Friday, Jan. 20, during a launch window between 7:42 to 8:22 pm Eastern from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The launch, originally scheduled for 7:46 pm Thursday at the beginning of a 40-minute window, was delayed several times, first because of a technical problem with sensors on the rocket, and later when an aircraft entered restricted airspace.
Twitter users at least had some fun with the scrub, launching two parody accounts including @WaywardPlane, which got retweeted by ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno.
The ULA Atlas 5 is carrying the Air Force’s third Space Based Infrared System satellite, designed to detect and track missile launches ranging from nuclear weapons to in-theater conventional missiles.
The SBIRS launch has already been delayed several times, most recently in October 2016. The spacecraft was scheduled for launch when a subcontractor informed Lockheed Martin of a potential problem with an engine component. Investigators found no problems with the engine were discovered and ULA rescheduled the launch for January 2017.
Thursday’s launch was to be ULA’s first for the year, and the 69th Atlas 5 launch since the vehicle’s introduction in 2002.