This Wednesday at 3:39 a.m., Vandenberg Air Force Base will launch a Delta IV rocket carrying a secret payload for the U.S. government.
The 4th Space Launch Squadron (SLS) of Vandenberg is partnering with United Launch Alliance (ULA), the Aerospace Corporation, and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) for its fourth launch of an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The SLS has previously launched Titan II, Titan IV, and Atlas V rockets, and will now be launching the Delta IV, an EELV designed by Boeing and manufactured by ULA. The vehicle will be carrying an undisclosed payload for the NRO.
The U.S. Air Force created the EELV program to develop cheaper alternatives to heavy-lift launch vehicles. According to Vandenberg Air Force Base, the Delta IV is capable of lifting anywhere from 9,000 pounds to over 13,000 pounds.
“Our mission assurance technicians and engineers have worked hand-in-hand with United Launch Alliance going over critical procedures and tasks to certify this launch is secure,” said Lt. Col. Eric Zarybnisky, 4th SLS commander, in a press release.