Delta IV rocket launches military communications satellite

By Allen Cone  |  Updated March 19, 2017 at 7:21 PM
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March 19 (UPI) -- A Delta IV rocket, carrying a $445 million U.S. military satellite, blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Saturday night after a 34-minute delay.

The 22-story rocket, built and flown by United Launch Alliance, took off at from Launch Complex 37 at 8:18 p.m. EDT on Saturday, powered by a thrust of 1.7 million pounds. The delay was due to a problem with ULA ground support equipment. ULA is a partnership between Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.

At 9 p.m., the rocket deployed the military's ninth Wideband Global Satcom satellite, built by Boeing.

The satellite is positioned 22,000 miles above the equator. The 10th and final satellite is targeted to launch in late 2018.

The WGS network serves military communications on ships and aircraft, as well as the Department of State, the White House and select partners worldwide.

"WGS provides anytime, anywhere communications for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and international partnership through broadcast, multicast and point-to-point connections," said Robert Tarleton, director of the Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate at Air Force Space Command in Los Angeles.

In exchange for part-time use of the WGS network, four countries -- Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and New Zealand -- paid for the $442 million cost to manufacture WGS-9.

Australia paid for the WGS-6 spacecraft, which was launched in 2013.

On Thursday, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a communications satellite from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A.

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