Mission will be a direct injection to Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) and longest mission to date
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch the Space Test Program (STP)-3 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command. The launch is on track for Dec. 5, 2021 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Launch is planned for 4:04 a.m. EST. The live launch broadcast begins at 3:30 a.m. EST at www.ulalaunch.com.
“STP-3 is a unique mission as the Atlas V will deliver STP-3 directly into Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO). This is a highly complex orbital insertion that requires three Centaur burns and precise navigation, a capability unique to the Atlas V.
This is our longest mission to date at seven hours and 10 minutes until final spacecraft separation,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “We are proud to work alongside our mission partners to prepare to launch this challenging mission and thank them for their outstanding teamwork.”
The STP-3 mission consists of the STPSat-6 satellite that hosts the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System-3 (SABRS-3) package and NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) experiment. The launch also includes a propulsive secondary payload adapter carrying additional small science and technology missions.
The mission will launch on an Atlas V 551 configuration rocket, that includes a 5.4 meter payload fairing and stands 196 ft. (59.7 m) tall. The Atlas booster for this mission is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage and Northrop Grumman provided the five Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM) 63 solid rocket boosters.
This will be the 90th launch of the Atlas V rocket. To date ULA has launched 146 times with 100 percent mission success.
With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 145 missions to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, deliver cutting-edge commercial services and enable GPS navigation.
Julie Arnold, photos ULA
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