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Atlas 5 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral at daybreak – Spaceflight Now

Reside protection of the countdown and launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral House Power Station in Florida. The mission will launch the U.S. House Power’s SBIRS GEO 6 missile warning satellite tv for pc towards geosynchronous orbit. Textual content updates will seem robotically under. Observe us on Twitter.

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United Launch Alliance’s fifth mission of the 12 months lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 6:29 a.m. EDT (1029 GMT) Thursday. An Atlas 5 rocket launched on a $1.2 billion mission with a U.S. House Power missile warning satellite tv for pc.

The countdown started at 11:09 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0309 GMT Thursday) with the power-up of the rocket, checks of the launcher’s steering system, and preparations to start out loading cryogenic propellants into the Atlas 5.

The mission was the fifth Atlas 5 flight of the 12 months, and the ninety fifth launch of an Atlas 5 rocket total. After Thursday’s launch, there are 21 Atlas 5s remaining in ULA’s stock earlier than the rocket is retired. ULA, a 50-50 three way partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, is creating the next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket to exchange the Atlas and Delta rocket households.

The payload for Thursday’s mission was SBIRS GEO 6, the ultimate satellite tv for pc within the House Power’s House Based mostly Infrared System. The SBIRS satellites carry infrared sensors to detect warmth plumes from missile launches, giving warning of a possible assault to U.S. army forces and authorities leaders.

Constructed by Lockheed Martin, the SBIRS GEO 6 satellite tv for pc weighed about 10,700 kilos (4,850 kilograms) absolutely fueled for launch.

The primary SBIRS payload in an elliptical orbit launched in 2006, and the army launched the primary SBIRS satellite tv for pc into geosynchronous orbit in 2011. The SBIRS program changed the army’s Protection Help Program, a sequence of 23 missile warning satellites launched between 1970 and 2007.

One of many infrared cameras on every SBIRS GEO satellite tv for pc scans throughout the spacecraft’s protection space in a U-shaped sample. With a fleet positioned around the globe, the SBIRS satellites and the remaining long-lived DSP satellites present world protection to detect missile launches. One other infrared sensor could be geared toward particular areas of curiosity.

“There’s a staring sensor that may be pointed at and stare at a set level,” mentioned Michael Corriea, Lockheed Martin’s vice president overseeing the SBIRS program. “So for instance, you possibly can job it to look over China as a result of there was one thing you perhaps wished to take a look at in a specific space, or North Korea.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket stands on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral House Power Station on Wednesday. Credit score: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Pictures

After just a few hours of early countdown preparations, ULA’s launch group at Cape Canaveral’s Atlas Spaceflight Operations Heart gave the “go” for the beginning of cryogenic tanking of the Atlas 5 round 4:30 a.m. EDT (0830 GMT).

Almost 66,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen had been loaded into the two-stage Atlas 5 rocket. The Centaur higher stage’s Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engine burns the hydrogen and oxygen propellant combine, and the Atlas first stage consumes liquid oxygen with 25,000 gallons room-temperature kerosene gasoline, which was loaded into the rocket Tuesday, quickly after ULA floor crews rolled the Atlas 5 the launch pad from the close by Vertical Integration Facility.

Two built-in holds occurred within the countdown, one at T-minus 2 hours and one other at T-minus 4 minutes, earlier than the ultimate four-minute terminal countdown sequence to arrange the Atlas 5 rocket liftoff.

The rocket’s propellant tanks had been pressurized, and the RD-180 engine ignited at T-minus 2.7 seconds. After build up thrust on the primary engine, the Atlas 5 despatched the command to mild two Northrop Grumman strap-on strong rocket boosters to energy the launcher off pad 41 with 1.6 million kilos of thrust.

The model of the Atlas 5 used on the SBIRS GEO 6 mission is named the “421” configuration, with the primary quantity denoting the scale of the payload fairing, the second quantity representing the variety of strong rocket boosters, and the third digit the variety of engines on the Centaur stage.

The SBIRS GEO 6 mission marked the ninth and ultimate flight of an Atlas 5 rocket within the 421 automobile configuration, and the ultimate launch from Cape Canaveral of an Atlas 5 rocket with the Atlas program’s basic conical 4-meter (13-foot) diameter nostril cone. Yet another Atlas 5 with a 4-meter fairing is scheduled to launch later this 12 months from California, whereas the remaining will fly with the bigger, extra bulbous 5-meter payload fairing.

After liftoff, the 194-foot-tall (59-meter) Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-097 for this mission, headed east from Cape Canaveral to focus on the mission’s elliptical, or oval-shaped, geosynchronous switch orbit

The Atlas 5 surpassed the velocity of sound in 49 seconds, then shed its spent strap-on boosters at T+plus 2 minutes, 13 seconds.

The primary stage’s RD-180 engine fired till T+plus 4 minutes, 12 seconds. Six seconds later, the primary stage separated from the Atlas 5’s Centaur higher stage, which ignited its RL10 engine at T+plus 4 minutes, 28 seconds. The clamshell-like payload shroud on high of the Atlas 5 jettisoned at T+plus 4 minutes, 36 seconds, as soon as the rocket was flying above the thick decrease layers of the ambiance.

Three RL10 engine burns are deliberate earlier than the Atlas 5 releases the SBIRS GEO 6 satellite tv for pc at T+plus 3 hours, 1 minute.

The Atlas 5’s steering pc will purpose to launch the spacecraft in an orbit ranging in altitude between 3,242 miles (5,218 kilometers) and 21,956 miles (35,335 kilometers), with an inclination angle of 17.63 levels to the equator.

This cutaway graphic reveals the Atlas 5 rocket’s “421” variant used to launch the SBIRS GEO 6 satellite tv for pc. Credit score: United Launch Alliance

The SBIRS GEO 6 spacecraft will use an on-board propulsion system to steer itself to a round geosynchronous orbit that’s repeatedly at an altitude of almost 22,300 miles over the equator. In that orbit, the satellite tv for pc’s velocity shall be fastened with the speed of Earth’s rotation, giving the craft’s infrared early warning sensors a continuing view of the identical a part of the planet.

The satellite tv for pc can even lengthen power-generating polar panels and lightweight shades to start fine-tuning the efficiency of is heat-seeking sensors.

SBIRS GEO 6 must be able to enter operational service in early 2023, in accordance with House Power officers. The satellite tv for pc is designed for a 12-year mission. Learn our mission preview story for extra particulars on SBIRS GEO 6.

ROCKET: Atlas 5 (AV-097)


PAYLOAD: SBIRS GEO 6 missile warning satellite tv for pc

CUSTOMER: U.S. House Power

LAUNCH SITE: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral House Power Station, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: Aug. 4, 2022

LAUNCH WINDOW: 6:29-7:09 a.m. EDT (1029-1109 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 80% probability of acceptable climate



TARGET ORBIT: Perigee of 3,242 miles (5,218 kilometers); Apogee of 21,956 miles (35,335 kilometers); Inclination angle of 17.63 levels to the equator.


  • T-00:00:02.7: RD-180 ignition
  • T+00:00:01.1: Liftoff
  • T+00:00:06.0: Start pitch/yaw maneuver
  • T+00:00:48.9: Mach 1
  • T+00:00:52.5: Most aerodynamic strain (Max-Q)
  • T+00:02:13.3: Strong rocket booster jettison
  • T+00:04:12.4: Atlas booster engine cutoff (BECO)
  • T+00:04:18.4: Atlas/Centaur stage separation
  • T+00:04:28.4: Centaur first primary engine begin (MES-1)
  • T+00:04:36.4: Payload fairing jettison
  • T+00:12:55.4: Centaur first primary engine cutoff (MECO-1)
  • T+00:22:54.6: Centaur second primary engine begin (MES-2)
  • T+00:27:38.8: Centaur second primary engine cutoff (MECO-2)
  • T+02:57:40.5: Centaur third primary engine begin (MES-3)
  • T+02:58:38.4: Centaur third primary engine cutoff (MECO-3)
  • T+03:01:27.4: SBIRS GEO 6 spacecraft separation


  • 677th launch for Atlas program since 1957
  • 378th Atlas launch from Cape Canaveral
  • 266th mission of a Centaur higher stage
  • 243rd use of Centaur by an Atlas rocket
  • 513th manufacturing RL10 engine to be launched
  • 2nd RL10C-1-1 engine launched
  • one hundred and first flight of an RD-180 primary engine
  • ninety fifth launch of an Atlas 5 since 2002
  • thirty seventh U.S. Air Power/House Power use of an Atlas 5
  • 18th-Nineteenth GEM-63 strong rocket boosters flown
  • 79th launch of an Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral
  • fifth Atlas 5 launch of 2022
  • 137th Advanced Expendable Launch Automobile flight
  • 152nd United Launch Alliance flight total
  • 87th Atlas 5 beneath United Launch Alliance
  • one hundred and tenth United Launch Alliance flight from Cape Canaveral
  • sixth launch of a SBIRS GEO satellite tv for pc
  • 57th 400-series flight of the Atlas 5
  • ninth Atlas 5 to fly within the 421 configuration
  • 106th launch from Advanced 41
  • 79th Atlas 5 to make use of Advanced 41
  • thirty third orbital launch total from Cape Canaveral in 2022

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