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HomeCELESTIAL NEWS & EVENTSULA rolls Atlas 5 rocket to launch pad at Cape Canaveral

ULA rolls Atlas 5 rocket to launch pad at Cape Canaveral

ULA scrubs Atlas 5 rocket due to stormy weather – Spaceflight Now

United Launch Alliance teams at Cape Canaveral rolled an Atlas 5 rocket to its launch pad Wednesday, moving the launcher into position for liftoff Thursday evening with a pair of geostationary satellites for the U.S. Space Force.

The rollout began shortly after 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), when the Atlas 5 emerged from the Vertical Integration Facility south of the launch pad. The 196-foot-tall (59.7-meter-tall) rocket rode a mobile launch platform along rail tracks to Space Launch Complex 41, the East Coast home of Atlas 5 launch operations.

United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket rolls out of the Vertical Integration Facility. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

The 1,800-foot (550-meter) trip took about one hour, with the Atlas 5 and its mobile launch platform driven by a pair of trackmobile locomotives. The rocket and its platform weighed about 1.8 million pounds during the rollout to the pad.

Once in position at pad 41, the Atlas 5 was to be connected to propellant loading lines and other ground systems. ULA’s launch team planned to load rocket-grade RP-1 kerosene fuel into the Atlas 5’s first stage Wednesday afternoon. The kerosene will feed the rocket’s Russian-made RD-180 main engine, in combination with super-cold liquid oxygen to be pumped into the Atlas 5 during the countdown Thursday.

Liftoff Thursday is set for 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT), the opening of a two-hour launch window. There is a 60% chance of favorable weather for Thursday’s launch window, according to the Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron.

The Atlas 5 launch Thursday is codenamed USSF 12. The rocket’s Centaur upper stage will target a circular geosynchronous orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator, a destination that will require three upper stage burns and about six hours to reach.

ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket rolls to Space Launch Complex 41 on June 29. Credit: Stephen Clark / Spaceflight Now

One of the payloads on the mission is the Space Force’s Wide Field Of View, or WFOV, testbed satellite to demonstrate a new infrared sensor capable of detecting and tracking missile launches, providing early warning of a potential attack on the United States of allied nations.

This graphic illustrates the components of the Atlas 5 rocket for the USSF 12 mission. Credit: United Launch Alliance

The USSF 12 mission marks the 100th flight of an RD-180 engine since it first launched in May 2000 on an Atlas 3 rocket.

After separation of the Atlas first stage, ULA’s Centaur upper stage will take over the flight with three burns of its single RL10 engine to first place the two Space Force payloads into a parking orbit, then propel the mission into higher orbits and on a trajectory hugging the equator.

The WFOV Testbed spacecraft, built by Millennium Space Systems, will separate from the Centaur upper stage at T+plus 5 hours, 49 minutes. An adapter structure will release about 10 minutes later, revealing the Northrop Grumman-built USSF 12 Ring payload for separation at T+plus 6 hours, 5 minutes.

ROCKET: Atlas 5 (AV-094)


PAYLOAD: WFOV Testbed and USSF 12 Ring

LAUNCH SITE: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: July 1, 2022

LAUNCH WINDOW: 6:00-8:00 p.m. EDT (2200-0000 GMT)

WEATHER FORECAST: 60% chance of acceptable weather



TARGET ORBIT: Approximately 22,440 miles, 0.0 degrees inclination


T-00:00:01.0: RD-180 ignition
T+00:00:01.0: Liftoff
T+00:00:06.9: Begin pitch/yaw maneuver
T+00:00:57.8: Mach 1
T+00:01:07.4: Maximum aerodynamic pressure (Max-Q)
T+00:01:48.4: Solid rocket booster jettison
T+00:03:25.6: Payload fairing jettison
T+00:04:24.3: Atlas booster engine cutoff (BECO)
T+00:04:30.3: Atlas/Centaur stage separation
T+00:04:40.2: Centaur first main engine start (MES-1)
T+00:10:58.2: Centaur first main engine cutoff (MECO-1)
T+00:23:13.6: Centaur second main engine start (MES-2)
T+00:28:41.9: Centaur second main engine cutoff (MECO-2)
T+05:43:54.1: Centaur third main engine start (MES-3)
T+05:46:20.0: Centaur third main engine cutoff (MECO-3)
T+05:49:36.0: WFOV Testbed spacecraft separation
T+05:59:03.9: Booster adapter separation
T+06:05:21.0: USSF 12 Ring spacecraft separation

676th launch for Atlas program since 1957
377th Atlas launch from Cape Canaveral
265th mission of a Centaur upper stage
242nd use of Centaur by an Atlas rocket
512th production RL10 engine to be launched
40th RL10C-1 engine launched
100th flight of an RD-180 main engine
94th launch of an Atlas 5 since 2002
36th U.S. Air Force/Space Force use of an Atlas 5
14th-17th GEM-63 solid rocket boosters flown
78th launch of an Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral
4th Atlas 5 launch of 2022
136th Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle flight
151st United Launch Alliance flight overall
86th Atlas 5 under United Launch Alliance
109th United Launch Alliance flight from Cape Canaveral
35th 500-series flight of the Atlas 5
9th Atlas 5 to fly in the 541 configuration
105th launch from Complex 41
78th Atlas 5 to use Complex 41
28th orbital launch overall from Cape Canaveral in 2022

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