Rocket fans in California may have been disappointed by tonight's scrub of a Delta 4 Heavy launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, but they received a nice consolation prize: a fireball that left what looked like a contrail hanging in sunset skies.
A hydrogen leak in one engine halted the launch only minutes before takeoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base Wednesday evening.
The United Launch Alliance rocket carrying a reconnaissance satellite had been set to take off at 5:44 p.m.
Wednesday was the fourth time the mission has been delayed.
First reports of the sighting came in shortly after 5:30 p.m.
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The National Weather Service Reno said that according to reports, it appears that the light was likely a meteor or space debris entering the atmosphere.
"We have declared a scrub for today's launch of the #DeltaIVHeavy".
Launches from the base northwest of Los Angeles can light up the sky for hundreds of miles. On Dec. 8, the launch was scrubbed just 7.5 seconds before its scheduled liftoff due to a technical glitch.
The NROL-17 launch had to be put off until December 30 at the earliest so that United Launch Alliance could address the Delta 4 Heavy rocket's accumulation of excess hydrogen.
ULA has carried out 27 launches for the National Reconnaissance Office over the past 12 years.