ULA launches missile defense satellite

20 January, 2018, 03:43 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • United Launch Alliance is set to deliver the fourth Space Based Infrared System GEO satellite for the U.S. Air Force

It was the 75th flight for ULA's Atlas V rocket and the first from Cape Canaveral for the company this year.

Thursday's launch was delayed "due to a ground issue associated with the booster liquid oxygen system", ULA wrote on Twitter.

Now the team has corrected the problem, and they are set to go again tonight.

The mission will loft the Air Force's fourth Space Based Infrared System, or SBIRS, satellite bound for geosynchronous orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

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The satellites fly in geostationary orbits, according to Space.com, carrying powerful scanning and infrared surveillance gear to track missile launches from orbit. Data from the satellite can also be used on the battlefield.

Launch window opens at 7:48 p.m. ET, with coverage starting at 7:28 p.m. ET. From this height, the SBIRS satellites also give information that helps with the United States missile defense systems and data about what kinds of launches are happening on the ground.

The SBIRS GEO Flight 4 spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, will join three similar satellites launched on Atlas 5 missions in 2011, 2013 and 2017.

The ULA has already confirmed that the countdown to launch is underway, adding that this is one of the USA's "highest priority" missions.

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