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ULA Atlas V Rocket Launch Of Missile Warning Satellite Delayed To Friday

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) is geared up for its maiden mission of 2017 with the launch of the Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Initially, it was scheduled to be launched on Thursday, Jan. 19, but it has now been reported that the launch will take place on Friday, Jan. 20, instead.

The ULA was established in 2006 and is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security. The company provides launch services to the U.S. government.

It is reported, that the ULA will provide a live feed of the launch on YouTube.

Atlas V Rocket Launch

The $1.2 billion mission was initially scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19, at 7:46PM ET. However, due to sensor-related issues, when the Eastern Range was fouled by an aircraft, the ULA rescheduled the launch to Friday, Jan. 20, with a T-0 of 19:52 local time.

According to the plan, a satellite designed by the U.S. Air Force will take ride on the ULA’s Atlas V rocket into the high orbit.

The geosynchronous missile detection satellite dubbed the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO-3 will detect any missile launches so that it can issue an alert prior to any impending threats.

It will detect the heat signatures that any missile will produce when it’s about to get launched, this will give U.S military enough time to prepare themselves or to activate any defensive measure to counter the imminent threat. To provide this warning SBIRS utilizes satellites in two different orbital paths along with the data processing facilities available on the ground.

GEO-3 is the third dedicated satellite that is about to make a journey to the geosynchronous orbit, situated 22,000 miles above the earth’s surface. The other two satellites that are already there are GEO-1 and GEO-2 launched in 2011 and 2013, respectively.

“SBIRS, considered one of the nation’s highest-priority space programs, is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st-century demands in four national security mission areas, including missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness,” noted a ULA representative in the mission description.

Based on the contract made in 1996, Lockheed Martin is the main contractor for this SBIRS program, with the SBIRS-GEO spacecraft based around the company’s A2100M platform. Each satellite has a mass of about 4.5 tons (4.4 Imperial tons, 5.0 US tons) and comes with a design which will last for 12 years.

The satellites are packed with two infrared imagers, one of them scans the disc of the Earth while the other focuses on specific areas of interest. The imaging payload was manufactured by Northrup Grumman, which acquired TRW Incorporated (the main contractor of the earlier DSP program) in 2002.



GEO-3 was supposed to launch in October 2016, however it was delayed due Lockheed’s investigation into an issue related to the engine component.

Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Flickr

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(Via TechTimes)