…on Tuesday May 18th 2021 from SLC-41 Cape Canaveral Florida!

May 17th 2021 Monday ULA had to scrub the launch attempt during the Centaur liquid oxygen (LOX) chilldown operations, the team identified an anomalous system response that could not be resolved within the launch window from a faulty temperature sensor on the ground side.

Liftoff did occur on Tuesday May 18th 2021 at 1:37 PM EDT or 17:37 UTC on a clear space coast afternoon with 80% favorable weather the United States Space Force SBIRS GEO-5 satellite carried by a ULA United Launch Alliance Atlas V lifted off from SLC-41 Cape Canaveral Florida and was successfully placed into orbit.

This is the first launch in 2021 from Cape Canaveral for ULA and the 87th flight of an Atlas V rocket since it first flew in 2002. Including the California launch this is ULA’s 2nd launch in 2021 and a corporate 144th succesfull mission overall.

This Atlas V has an extended 4 meter payload fairing protecting the Lockheed Martin SBIRS satellite making the rocket 194 feet or 59 meters tall. In the 421 configuration (4 meter payload fairing 2 solid rocket boosters 1 Centaur upper stage engine) it will produce around 1.5 million pounds of thrust.

Forty seven seconds into flight the rocket will reach Mach 1 the speed of sound and at two minutes nine seconds the two Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-60A’s SRM’s (Solid Rocket Motors) are jettison.

When the main engines cut off (MECO) it will be traveling an astounding 12,500 miles an hour or 20,000 kilometers an hour at around 73 miles or 118 kilometers in altitude.

Two small EZ3 & EZ4 demonstration small satellites will be deployed from the aft end of the Centaur 2nd stage booster for the United States Air Force Academy besides the main government payload. The second stage Centaur III is the worlds highest performing 2ND stage and inserted the SBIRS GEO 5 satellite into it’s proper orbit.

Lockheed Martin representatives discussed how this early warning satellite for the United States Space Force took 5 years to build at a cost of just under one billion dollars.


Congratulations to Tory Bruno and the entire team at United Launch Alliance on another successful mission!


Article & Photo Credit: Scott Schilke for spacenews.lu & space-news.es

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