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Delta IV Heavy launch scheduled

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Inside Space Launch Complex-6 here Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, United Launch Alliance prepares a Delta IV Heavy for its scheduled December 2010 launch date. This rocket will be the first Delta IV Heavy West Coast launch and the largest rocket to ever launch from Vandenberg. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Lee)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - The first West Coast Delta IV Heavy Launch Vehicle is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex-6 here Jan. 20 at 1:08 p.m. PST.

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The first West Coast Delta IV Heavy Launch Vehicle is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex-6 here Jan. 20 at 1:08 p.m. PST.

This will be the largest rocket ever to launch from the West Coast of the United States.

"This launch marks a significant milestone in our nation's space capability," said Lt. Col. Brady Hauboldt, launch director. "We've really restored a national capability for heavy lift on the Western Range, something we have not had since the last of the Titan IV-Bs flew out of Vandenberg. This extends our ability to cost effectively deliver payloads of all sizes and compliments."

The launch follows three years of preparations and $100 million in base infrastructure upgrades at SLC-6. It makes Vandenberg unique in providing the full spectrum of space lift capability delivering payloads of all sizes to orbit aboard the Minotaur through Delta II, Atlas V and now the Delta IV, said Hauboldt.

While this is the first Delta IV HLV from Vandenberg, it will be the fifth in the program's history. The first launch occurred in January 2004 from the East Coast.

The rocket will carry a national security payload for the NRO.