Science

The launch of the Atlas V rocket of the US military space mission was delayed until Monday. How to watch live.

Update for 8 p.m. ET, December 4: The United Launch Alliance postponed the launch of the STP-3 mission of Space Test Program 3 for the US Space Force until Monday, December 6 due to a leak in a rocket booster. 1 ground system storage tank (RP-1). Lifoff is scheduled for 4:04 am EST (0904 GMT) on December 6.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The United Launch Alliance (ULA) will launch an Atlas V rocket into space early Sunday morning (December 5), and you can watch the action live online.

The two-stage rocket is scheduled to lift off from Space Launch Complex 41 here at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 4:04 a.m. EST (0904 GMT), carrying a combination of payloads for the US Space Force. On a mission called STP-3 (Space Test Program-3).

You can watch the rocket launch Sunday here on Space.com, courtesy of ULA, or directly through the company.

Related: The History of Rockets.

The 196-foot-tall (59.7-meter) rocket is ready to launch in its most robust configuration, the 551. This means the rocket is powered by five solid belt-driven rocket engines, a single-engine Centaur upper stage. and its payload is tucked inside a 5 m (16.4 ft) wide fairing.

This version of the Atlas V has launched a number of high-profile payloads over the years, including NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance Mars rovers.

The rocket launched to its launch pad on Friday (December 3), making the 550 m (1,800 ft) journey from ULA’s vertically integrated facility to the pad.

Hidden within the payload fairing are two satellites, each containing a host of tech prototypes and experiments to be tested in orbit.

Most payloads, which are sponsored by the US Army’s Space Testing Program, a department dedicated to overseeing the space-related activities of the Department of Defense, are classified. However, the larger of the two satellites, known as STPSat-6, also carries a novel laser communication payload for NASA.

Also on board is a payload for the National Nuclear Safety Administration that is designed to detect nuclear detonations from space.

The smallest “carpool” satellite, known as LDPE-1 (EPSA Long Life Propellant Spacecraft), will test a propulsion system in space and other technologies as well.

Sunday morning’s launch will be ULA’s 190th flight and the company’s longest mission to date, according to ULA representatives.

“STP-3 is a unique mission, as the Atlas V will deliver STP-3 directly into the Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO). It is a very complex orbital insertion that requires three Centaur burns and precise navigation, a unique capability. from Atlas V, “said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of government and business programs, in a statement. “This is our longest mission to date, seven hours and 10 minutes to final separation from the spacecraft.”

The launch comes on the heels of SpaceX’s 27th rocket launch of the year, which lifted off from an adjacent platform Thursday night (December 2) and delivered 50 satellites into orbit, including 48 from the company’s Starlink internet spacecraft. .

Meteorologists from the 45th space delta have said there is a 90% chance of favorable conditions for an on-time liftoff in the early hours of Sunday morning. The weather deteriorates slightly on Monday (Dec 4) for a planned backup attempt if needed.

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