The most powerful Atlas 5 rocket to be deployed on a national security mission - Spaceflight now

The most powerful Atlas 5 rocket to be deployed on a national security mission – Spaceflight now

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is preparing to launch its last-stage national security mission using one of its Atlas 5 rockets. The mission, called NROL-107 or Silentbarker, is set to lift off at 8:47 a.m. EDT (1247 UTC) from Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Sunday morning’s launch will follow a one-day slippage from Saturday’s planned flight after ULA discovered what it described as “an issue discovered during a circuit continuity check” leading to the fuel injection system.

In a recent update from ULA at 4:05 a.m. EDT (0805 UTC), the countdown was progressing well, stating that “All programs remain ‘running’ here at the Advanced Spaceflight Operations Center and at Space Launch Complex-41. pad.”

Early in the morning, they reported that the weather forecast for the launch was 90 percent correct for an early launch.

“The light moving south keeps most of the diurnal shower and storm activity centered in the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic,” ULA said in a statement.

A forecast update from the 45th Weather Squadron, which released its latest weather report on Saturday, cited cumulus clouds as the only thing that could prevent the launch from a weather perspective. As of Saturday, if necessary, the 24-hour weather forecast shows an 85 percent chance of good weather for the hike.

‘Watchman’ within location

The Silentbarker mission is described as a “watchdog” of sorts in geosynchronous Earth orbit, a pocket of space around 24,000 to 40,000 kilometers above Earth. During the Sunday mission, the Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, Dr. Christopher Scolese said Silentbarker will allow them and their partners at the US Space Systems Command to better track large and small objects in GEO.

“You’ve heard of communication satellites moving from one place to another to provide better security to other places. Of course, we want to be able to see that, so we know what’s happening in that area,” Scolese said during the Aug. 28 conference call. “But we want to know if something is happening that is unexpected or should not continue, that could represent a threat to a high-value asset, whether it’s ours or one of our partners.”

The program went from concept to development in about five years. Both NRO and SSC had a mutual interest in improving their capabilities in the GEO space and formed the partnership that became Silentbarker.

There are inconsistencies regarding the total cost of operations with the Air Force FY2021 budget document estimating the cost to be approximately $1.19 billion through FY2025 and an April 2023 report from the US Accountability Office that estimates program costs to be approximately and $994 million.

The program will include at least two launches with the first, NROL-107, including multiple payloads. Officials declined to go into further detail.

“Today, we rely mainly on our ground-based radars. Our ground-based radars are great, but they can only see about a basketball-sized object in space. And because of the challenges of day, night and weather, it becomes very difficult to maintain those things,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein during the Aug. 28 conference.

So, by moving the sensor into orbit with those objects, we can not only see small objects, but also keep their records. And when they act out of the ordinary, we get signs and warnings that something is here. “

Sunday’s launch will be the last time ULA uses the Atlas 5 rocket used to launch an NRO mission before they switch to their Vulcan rocket. They have one national security mission in Atlas 5. USSF-51 is expected to launch in 2024 with a specific date to come.

“It’s our mission that we’re designed for, so it’s kind of a good way to end that,” said ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno. “It means a lot to our guys. You will see people with a small tear in the corner of their eye.

#powerful #Atlas #rocket #deployed #national #security #mission #Spaceflight

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *