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After the launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base was called off Thursday morning for the fifth time this month, officials announced that they will wait at least 10 days before making another attempt. 

The next launch attempt will happen no sooner than Dec. 30, according to United Launch Alliance, which is providing the rocket. The company said it will continue to investigate the cause of the latest delay.

The launch is set to be part of a mission, dubbed NROL-71, for the National Reconnaissance Office. The rocket's payload was not revealed.

The launch had initially been planned for Dec. 7 but was postponed that day "due to an issue with a redundant communication link between the control center and the launch site," according to ULA.

It was rescheduled for Dec. 8 but was postponed again that day with just 7 seconds remaining in the prelaunch countdown "due to a problem detected by the Terminal Countdown Sequencer Rack," ULA reported.

It was rescheduled again for the evening of Dec. 18, but was called off early that afternoon due to high high ground winds.

The latest attempt Wednesday was also called off due to "indications of elevated hydrogen concentrations within the port booster engine section," ULA reported.

On Wednesday night, ULA reported that it would attempt the launch again on Thursday evening, but those plans were nixed early Thursday morning.

Given that the launch will not be attempted again before Dec. 30, there is a great chance that when it does finally go off it will be the final launch of 2018 or the first launch of 2019 from VAFB.

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This report was prepared by Willis Jacobson. He can be reached at wjacobson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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