From: United Launch Alliance
Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012
Centennial, Colo., (Dec. 7, 2012) - Today, United Launch Alliance (ULA) cleared the next launch of
the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) for Dec. 11, after a thorough flight clearance process was
executed following a flight data anomaly that occurred on the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-3
launch on Oct. 4.
"Although the GPS mission was successful and the satellite was delivered to a precise
orbit, ULA and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) are executing an extremely robust investigation into
the cause of the reduced engine performance on the recent Delta IV mission," said Jim Sponnick, ULA
vice president, Mission Operations. "Our 50-year heritage of launch experience and decades of launch
data have enabled the robust investigation processes we perform for any flight conditions that differ
from our nominal predictions, in order to continue the critical focus on mission success that our
The ULA investigation has concluded that a fuel leak occurred in a specific area of the
interior of the thrust chamber, and that this leak started during the first engine start sequence.
Although the investigation into the flight data anomaly continues, all credible crossover
implications from the Delta anomaly for the OTV-3 Atlas vehicle and engine system have been
thoroughly addressed and mitigated, culminating in the flight clearance decision for the OTV-3
"Our flight data anomaly investigation includes substantial involvement and oversight
from senior industry technical advisors, as well as our Air Force OTV customer, Air Force EELV
customer, and NASA customers," said Sponnick. "We thank the OTV customer for their patience and
participation throughout the flight clearance process for this important mission."
Following the OTV-3 launch, ULA's next launch is the TDRS-K mission for NASA, which is
planned for Jan. 29, 2013.
ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver,
Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and
Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB,
For more information on ULA, visit the ULA Web site at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch
Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch and
// end //