November 23, 2023
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Fires delay satellite launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base


Liftoff of a long delayed earth imaging satellite has been pushed back further by two wildfires burning on Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Originally scheduled for Sept. 16, the launch of the WorldView4 earth imaging satellite was first pushed back at the last minute until Sept. 18 because of a minor leak in one of the ground propellant tanks.

The satellite’s Sept. 18 launch was then scrubbed because of the Canyon Fire, which started on Vandenberg property Sept. 17. The fire is now 70 percent contained and all United Launch Alliance employees are safe.

Around 2 p.m. Sept. 22, though, authorities reported another brush fire had broken out on the base. Currently, crews are reporting seeing a lot of smoke nearby.

A Sept. 26 launch was then tentatively scheduled but because of the fires that launch has also been scrubbed.

The United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space and Security, plans to launch the satellite on an Atlas V rocket. The company said a team is continuing to monitor the safety of the rocket and the satellite.

The Alliance said in a news release it is working with Vandenberg authorities to find a new launch window in early October.

Planning for the mission started in 2007 under the name GeoEye-2 and was slated to launch in the spring of 2013, but was delayed because of a merger between two former competitors.

Final preparations were made to the satellite Sept. 8 as technicians at Vandenberg encapsulated the satellite in a white, 4-meter tall protective nose cone.

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