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120718 Delta preparation 02.jpg (copy)

A Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a secret payload from the National Reconnaissance Office waits inside its protective tower last week at SLC-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The twice-delayed launch is now scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 18.

The launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket that had been postponed twice from Vandenberg Air Force Base last week is now slated for Tuesday, Dec. 18.

The launch is scheduled for a window that will open at 5:57 p.m. from VAFB’s Space Launch Complex-6. The rocket, provided by United Launch Alliance, will carry a secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office in a mission dubbed NROL-71.

The launch had initially been planned for Dec. 7, but was postponed "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 pre-launch countdown "due to a problem detected by the Terminal Countdown Sequencer Rack," ULA reported.

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This report was prepared by Willis Jacobson. He can be reached at