Vandenberg: ULA rocket, NASA satellite launch still delayed

The launch of the Atlas V rocket and its Landsat 9 spacecraft from Vandenberg Space Force Base will now not take place until September 27, according to NASA.

The latest four-day delay will also result in new dates for the assortment of community activities planned in conjunction with the historic launch.

On Wednesday, NASA said the space agency and United Launch Alliance were reviewing the launch date after the team experienced delays in completing pre-takeoff tasks.

“Attachment of the spacecraft to the Atlas V rocket has been delayed due to high winds out of tolerance for the operation and conflicts with other customers using the Western Range,” NASA said.

Located near Lompoc, Vandenberg has a busy weekend with a missile defense test launch on Sunday morning and a Falcon 9 rocket launch on Monday evening.

Previously, the Atlas mission slipped by a week, from September 16 to September 23 at the earliest, after supply chain issues caused the liquid nitrogen needed for launch to be unavailable.

“The current pandemic medical liquid oxygen demands have impacted the delivery of the necessary liquid nitrogen supply to Vandenberg by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and its supplier Airgas,” NASA said in late August.

After overcoming that challenge, the team successfully conducted a wet dress rehearsal, counting down and fueling the rocket but without turning on the engine or taking off, earlier this month.

Landsat 9 is a joint mission of NASA and the US Geological Survey that continues the legacy of monitoring the Earth’s terrestrial and coastal regions.

The first Landsat was launched in 1972 and was followed by its sister satellites, all from Vandenberg.

Santa Barbara County isn’t just the launch site for Landsat. Northrop Grumman in Goleta designed and built the Landsat 9 solar panel.

To mark the 50th anniversary, a launch event, the Landsat in Lompoc GeoTour, is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday at the Dick DeWees Community & Senior Center, 1120 W. Ocean Ave. Registration is free and available at explorelompoc.com/ géocaching.

The “Earth as Art” exhibit can be viewed in the Grossman Gallery of the Lompoc Library, 501 E. North Ave., 10 am to 5 pm September 23-30.

A Landsat Week proclamation and mural dedication are scheduled for September 26 at 2 p.m. near the corner of Ocean Avenue and I Street. The mural celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Landsat program.

An observation of the Landsat 9 launch is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on September 27 at Lompoc Airport, 1801 North H St.

The full list of activities can be found at landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov.

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