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Delta IV Heavy preparations (copy)

Media members position remote-control cameras on Dec. 7 during preparation for the launch of a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base. That launch has been postponed until further notice, as has a separate SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from the base.

A pair of rocket launches that had been scheduled to occur as soon as this week from Vandenberg Air Force Base have both been postponed with no new target dates announced.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy liftoff that has essentially been in a holding pattern for the past month will remain on delay pending further testing, ULA announced Saturday. Meanwhile, SpaceX confirmed Sunday that its planned Tuesday launch of a Falcon 9 rocket will also be delayed, though the cause for that one is inclement weather.

The ULA Delta IV Heavy launch is scheduled to carry a secret payload into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office in a mission dubbed NROL-71. The launch was initially scheduled for Dec. 7, but has since been plagued by a series of delays. In late December, ULA announced that the rocket would not take off prior to Jan. 6.

On Saturday, ULA released a statement noting that the new launch date and time would be provided after additional testing.

“We continue to remedy the technical issues that caused the last scrub of the Delta IV Heavy, and are working with our partners, the National Reconnaissance Office and the U.S. Air Force, to ensure that we fly when it is safe to do so,” said Gary Wentz, vice president of government and commercial programs for ULA. “We understand that this is a high-priority mission for the nation’s warfighters and we take our commitment to safety and mission assurance seriously.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday as part of the Iridium-8 mission, the eighth in a series of satellite deliveries for Iridium Communications.

A static test for the launch was completed on Sunday, according to both SpaceX and Iridium Communications, but the rainy weather led to the launch ultimately being pushed back.

“The launch will take place as soon as possible and we expect that new date information to be available in the very near future,” said Jordan Hassin, an Iridium spokesperson.

Vandenberg has not yet hosted a rocket launch in 2019. The most recent take-off from the base was a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that carried the “Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express” mission on Dec. 3.

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Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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