File photo of a Delta 4 rocket standing on Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Credit: ULA
The launch of a top secret National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been pushed back from Dec. 13 until no earlier than Jan. 10 to complete software validation on the Delta 4 rocket’s new avionics system, United Launch Alliance announced Wednesday.
The launch company said officials delayed the mission “to perform additional validation of the software and systems associated with Common Avionics.”
In a statement released Wednesday, ULA said the common avionics are a new suite of avionics, flight software and ground systems designed to fly on both of ULA’s current-generation rockets — the Atlas 5 and Delta 4. The modified avionics system replaces earlier-generation software and equipment that flew on Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets, which were developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing before the aerospace contractors merged their launch divisions to form ULA in 2006.
“This upgraded command and control system was designed to reduce cost and improve reliability,” ULA said.
The Delta 4 rocket is set to loft a classified payload for the NRO, the U.S. government’s spy satellite ...