Last Atlas 5 launch from California delayed for battery substitute – Spaceflight Now


The primary stage of ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket was lifted onto its launch stand at Vandenberg Area Power Base, California, on Sept. 28. Credit score: USSF thirtieth Area Wing/Steve Gerlich

The ultimate flight of an Atlas 5 rocket from California has been delayed from Tuesday till no sooner than Nov. 9 to switch a battery on the launcher’s Centaur higher stage, United Launch Alliance and NASA officers mentioned.

The Atlas 5 rocket’s Centaur higher stage will place the JPSS 2 climate satellite tv for pc into polar orbit for NOAA and NASA, then the rocket stage will carry out a deorbit burn and deploy a joint ULA-NASA re-entry expertise experiment named LOFTID, or the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Check of an Inflatable Decelerator.

The mission must wait till no sooner than Nov. 9 to blast off from Vandenberg Area Power Base in California. The launch time Nov. 9 is about for 1:25 a.m. PST (4:25 a.m. EST; 0925 GMT).

The rocket is absolutely stacked on its launch pad at Vandenberg to start a mission that can shut lengthy chapters within the historical past of the Atlas rocket program. It would mark the ultimate flight of an Atlas rocket from Vandenberg, and the final Atlas 5 rocket to fly with the car’s traditional 4-meter-diameter (13-foot) payload fairing.

There are 20 extra Atlas 5 rocket flights on ULA’s schedule within the subsequent few years, together with the JPSS 2 mission. ULA is phasing out the Atlas 5 rocket, together with its different legacy rocket, the Delta 4. There are two Delta 4-Heavy rockets left on ULA’s launch manifest.

The Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets shall be changed by the next-generation Vulcan Centaur launcher, which ULA says shall be cheaper to construct and function, and can exceed the capabilities of the corporate’s earlier automobiles.

The Atlas 5’s payload fairing containing the JPSS 2 climate satellite tv for pc and LOFTID tech demo experiment was moved to the launch pad earlier this month. Credit score: USSF thirtieth Area Wing/Carlos Velasco

The JPSS 2 climate satellite tv for pc is the second in NOAA’s latest technology of observatories gathering information on Earth’s ambiance and oceans, mapping and monitoring wildfires and volcanoes, and measuring mud and smoke within the air. JPSS 2 may even observe the well being of the ozone layer.

Constructed by Northrop Grumman, the JPSS 2 spacecraft is the third satellite tv for pc in NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite tv for pc System collection of climate observatories. It follows the launch of the Suomi NPP and JPSS 1 climate satellites in 2011 and 2017, each on ULA’s now-retired Delta 2 rocket.

JPSS 2 will fly at an altitude of 512 miles (824 kilometers), permitting its 4 devices to gather information over the identical location on Earth twice per day, as soon as in daylight and as soon as at nighttime, because the planet rotates beneath the satellite tv for pc’s orbit.

The brand new satellite tv for pc shall be renamed NOAA 21 after it reaches orbit, persevering with a line of U.S. authorities climate satellites relationship again to 1960. Forecasters use information from polar-orbiting satellites to assist predict climate three to seven days prematurely, whereas NOAA’s GOES climate satellites in geostationary orbit present real-time monitoring of extreme climate and tropical cyclones.

The LOFTID secondary payload on the Atlas 5 rocket will check an inflatable warmth defend design that could possibly be used sooner or later to assist land huge cargo on Mars. ULA partnered with NASA on the re-entry tech demo experiment as a result of the corporate might use an identical warmth defend system to assist it recuperate rocket engines from the next-generation Vulcan rocket for refurbishment and reuse.

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Comply with Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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