Replace: The Atlas 5 lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s pad 41 at 8:47 a.m. EDT (1247 UTC).
United Launch Alliance (ULA) is making ready to launch its penultimate nationwide safety mission utilizing considered one of its workhorse Atlas 5 rockets. The mission, dubbed NROL-107 or Silentbarker, is poised for liftoff at 8:47 a.m. EDT (1247 UTC) from Area Launch Advanced 41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Area Power Station.
The Sunday morning launch comes following a at some point slip from the deliberate liftoff on Saturday after ULA found what it described as “a problem discovered throughout a prelaunch ordnance circuit continuity verify” within the lead as much as the fueling course of.
As of the newest replace from ULA at 4:05 a.m. EDT (0805 UTC), the countdown course of was continuing properly, stating that “All methods stay ‘go’ right here on the Superior Spaceflight Operations Heart and on the Area Launch Advanced-41 pad.”
Earlier within the morning, they acknowledged that the launch climate forecast was 90 p.c favorable for an on-time liftoff.
“A lightweight southerly stream is protecting many of the diurnal bathe and storm exercise targeted over the Gulf Stream within the Atlantic,” ULA mentioned in a press release.
The replace tracks with a forecast from the forty fifth Climate Squadron, which issued its newest climate briefing on Saturday, citing cumulus clouds as the one potential limiting issue to launch from a climate standpoint. As of Saturday, if wanted, the 24-hour backup climate forecast exhibits an 85 p.c likelihood of favorable climate for liftoff.
A ‘watchdog’ in area
The Silentbarker mission has been described as being a “watchdog” of types within the geosynchronous Earth orbit, a pocket of area round 24,000 to 40,000 kilometers past the floor. Within the run-up to Sunday’s mission, Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace Director Dr. Christopher Scolese mentioned Silentbarker will permit them and their companions on the U.S. Area Programs Command to higher observe extra and smaller objects in GEO.
“You’ve heard about communication satellites transferring from one location to an different to offer higher protection for different areas. Definitely, we wish to have the ability to see that, so we all know what’s going on in that space,” Scolese mentioned throughout an Aug. 28 press convention. “However we additionally need to know if there’s something happening that’s surprising or shouldn’t be happening that would doubtlessly characterize a risk to a high-value asset, both ours or considered one of our allies’.”
This system went from idea to growth over a roughly five-year interval. Each the NRO and SSC had overlapping pursuits in enhancing their capabilities within the GEO area and solid a collaboration that turned Silentbarker.
There’s some discrepancy concerning the complete price of the operations with a FY2021 Air Power price range doc estimating prices to be about $1.19 billion by means of FY2025 and an April 2023 report from the U.S. Authorities Accountability Workplace assessing program prices to be roughly $994 million.
This system will include no less than two mission launches with the primary, NROL-107, consisting of a number of payloads. Officers declined to enter additional element.
“Right this moment, we primarily depend on our ground-based radars. Our ground-based radars are fairly beautiful, however they will just about solely see a couple of basketball-sized object in area. And due to the challenges of day, night time and climate, it will get extraordinarily exhausting to take care of custody of these objects,” mentioned Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein in the course of the Aug. 28 press convention.
“So, by truly transferring the sensor into orbit with these objects, we are able to truly not solely detect smaller objects, however keep custody of them. And once they function out of the norm, we get indications and warnings that there’s one thing right here.”
Sunday’s launch may also be the final time ULA makes use of an Atlas 5 rocket is used to launch a mission for the NRO earlier than they transition to their Vulcan rocket. They’ve yet another nationwide safety mission aboard an Atlas 5. USSF-51 is anticipated to launch in 2024 with a extra particular date forthcoming.
“It’s our mission that we’re designed for, so it’s form of a becoming option to finish that,” mentioned ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno. “It means rather a lot to our guys. You’re going to see folks with somewhat tear within the nook of their eye.”