United Launch Alliance (ULA) is making final preparations to launch an Atlas V rocket in support of U.S. national security objectives.
ULA is in the final stages of its Space Test Program (STP)-3 mission launch for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command. Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station will be the site for the launch, which is on track for December 5 at 4:04 a.m. ET.
The launch will be broadcast live beginning at 3:30 a.m. ET at www.ulalaunch.com.
The #STP3 Launch Readiness Review approved continuing preparations for Sunday's liftoff of #AtlasV with the STPSat-6 and LDPE-1 satellites for @SpaceForceDOD and @USSF_SSC. Launch time is 4:04amEST (0904 UTC), weather is now 90% favorable. Live coverage: https://t.co/LEV7vitjDL pic.twitter.com/SL7WTokbu7
— ULA (@ulalaunch) December 2, 2021
Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs, noted that the rocket manufacturer’s launch will be the longest mission in company history.
“STP-3 is a unique mission as the Atlas V will deliver STP-3 directly into Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO). This is a highly complex orbital insertion that requires three Centaur burns and precise navigation, a capability unique to the Atlas V. This is our longest mission to date at seven hours and 10 minutes until final spacecraft separation,” advised Wentz. “We are proud to work alongside our mission partners to prepare to launch this challenging mission and thank them for their outstanding teamwork.”
The STP-3 mission consists of the STPSat-6 satellite that hosts the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System-3 (SABRS-3) package and NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) experiment.
Additional small science and technology missions will be carried by a propulsive secondary payload adapter.
The mission will see the launch of a ULA Atlas V 551 configuration rocket, which stands 196 ft. tall and includes a 5.4-meter payload. The Centaur upper stage’s RL10C-1 engine was provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne, with the five Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM) 63 solid rocket boosters being provided by Northrop Grumman.
The upcoming mission will mark ULA’s 90th launch of the Atlas V rocket. The company has launched 146 times with a 100% success rate.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL