10:15 A.M. UPDATE: United Launch Alliance tweeted “Just wrapped up a weather briefing. Weather likely to be better around the 1:03 p.m. EST launch time than later”
The most recent forecast issued by the 45th Weather Squadron says that there is now only a 30% chance of overall permissible weather conditions for launch. In the event of a 24 hour delay, a cold front will remain near stationary over Central Florida with cloudy conditions, showers, and the threat of isolated thunderstorms. The primary concerns for a 24 hour delay are lightning, cumulus clouds, disturbed weather and thick clouds.
The launch was initially re-scheduled for November 27, 2012 due to a chamber pressure anomaly observed during the Delta IV medium configuration launch of a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) IIF-3 on October 4, 2012. While the mission successfully placed the GPS satellite in a precise orbit, a lower than normal chamber pressure was observed on the Delta IV RL 10 upper stage engine.
This mission, named OTV-3, will be a re-flight of the first X-37B OTV, which was successfully recovered at Vandenberg AFB Dec. 3, 2010, after 224 days on orbit.
The X-37B is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the X-37B program performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.
“With the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, the X-37B OTV program brings a singular capability to space technology development,” said Lt. Col. Tom McIntyre, X-37B program manager. “The return capability allows the Air Force to test new technologies without the same risk commitment faced by other programs.”