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ULA Atlas launch to carry Space Force satellite payloads

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is in the final stages of preparation for the launch of an Atlas V 541 rocket in support of a U.S. Space Force mission relating to missile defense.

The USSD-12 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) features two satellite payloads, which will be delivered into orbit approximately 22,000 miles above the equator around six hours after liftoff.

Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla.

The forward payload, Wide Field of View (WFOV), is a testbed spacecraft that informs the Next Gen Overhead Persistent Infrared program (OPIR), which will succeed the Space Based Infrared Systems program.

The Next Gen OPIR is designed to provide a resilient space-based global missile warning capability against emerging missile and counter-space threats.

Sponsored by Space Systems Command and managed by the NASA Ames Research Center, the mid-sized WFOV spacecraft is based on Millennium’s AQUILA M8 affordable platform series and hosts a transformational OPIR six-degree staring sensor developed under a separate contract by L3Harris Technologies.

WFOV’s primary mission in orbit is to explore future missile warning algorithms with data collected in space.

The aft payload is a propulsive ESPA named the USSF-12 Ring. The Ring is a classified mission to demonstrate future technology for the U.S. Department of Defense.

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