ULA launches missile defense satellite

Saul Bowman
January 20, 2018

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

Tonight's launch is set to take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida sometime during a 40-minute window that opens at 7:52PM ET.

The Atlas V rocket is carrying the fourth Space Based Infrared System GEO satellite built by Lockheed Martin that will provide early-missile warning defense for the U.S. Air Force.

United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket launch is scheduled for Friday night from Cape Canaveral following Thursday's scrubbed launch due to a ground issue associated with the booster liquid oxygen system. So far, there's a 90 percent chance of favorable weather.

Check the ULA website for updated information on the launch or follow it on Twitter.

The SBIRS satellites fly in geostationary orbits, and are equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors that collect data for use by the USA military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense and gather broader intelligence.

A ULA statement said: "SBIRS, considered one of the nation's highest priority space programs, is created to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands in four national security mission areas: missile warning, missile defence, technical intelligence and battle-space awareness".

The Air Force's SBIRS includes a combination of satellites in GEO orbit and hosted payloads in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO).

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