The powerful United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket launched two “close surveillance” satellites for the U.S. space force on Friday (Jan. 21).
The Atlas v Launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Station at 2pm EST (1900 GMT) on Friday, two identical Geosynchronous Space situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites were launched into orbit.
If all goes according to plan, the rocket will launch two satellites six hours and 45 minutes after launch. GSSAP Kraft will reach its final destination, which will go into Earth synchronous orbit about 22,300 miles (36,000 km) above the equator.
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These satellites are the fifth and sixth GSSAP spacecraft. ULA introduced the first four aircraft in two different aircraft, one in 2014 and the other in 2016. Delta IV medium rockets were used on those two previous missions, which retired in 2019.
GSSAP satellites help US space command monitor traffic Earth synchronous orbit, The orbital speed of a satellite corresponds to the speed of the Earth’s rotation. It is a valuable perch for meteorological, communications and surveillance satellites because the spacecraft are constantly “orbiting” in the same part of the planet (at the same longitude anyway).
GSSAP satellites “provide environmental surveillance services on the Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), improving aviation security for all astronauts operating in that orbit,” ULA representatives Wrote in a work description.
“Advanced status knowledge of satellites at that distance enhances the ability to approach a spacecraft owner / operator very closely and warn if there is another object that is expected to create a dangerous situation,” they added. “GSSAP’s data uniquely contributes to timely and accurate orbital predictions, enhances our knowledge of the geo environment and further enables space travel security, including satellite collision avoidance.”
Friday’s flight was the first to land on the Atlas V in the 511 configuration – it features a 5-meter-wide (16.5 ft) pilot fairing, a single-engine center top and a solid rocket booster on the side of the rocket.
Only the 511 Atlas V variant has not yet flown, ULA representatives wrote in the job description. But a close relative of that version – 41m wide (13.2ft) with payload fairing 411 – flew half a dozen times, they added.
Editor’s note: The story was updated on January 21 at 2:30 pm with a successful lift-off message on EDT.
Written by Mike Wall “Out“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; explained by Carl Tate), book on searching for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter MicheldWall. Follow us on Twitter PSpacedotcom Or on Facebook.
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