CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Florida’s Space Coast is poised to host near back-to-back launches in the coming days. Two different launch vehicles are slated to roar off of the launch pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. United Launch Alliance (ULA) is planning to launch an Atlas V 401 rocket Wednesday, May 15 at 5:38 p.m. EDT. Seven days later, on May 22, ULA is planning to launch a Delta IV Medium rocket.
ULA completed the Atlas’ Launch Readiness Review Monday, May 13, and currently everything is proceeding on schedule with weather providing an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions for launch. The rocket’s payload is the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System (GPS IIF-4) satellite. It is hoped the 18-minute launch window will provide sufficient time to have the rocket liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41.
A week later, on May 22, from a different launch pad, Space Launch Complex 37, a Delta IV Medium is scheduled to launch the WGS-5 spacecraft. The launch window is scheduled to open at 8:26 p.m. EDT. This is the first launch of a Delta IV since the flight data anomaly that occurred on the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-3 launch, which took place Oct. 4, 2012.
“This will be the first Delta IV launch following the low engine performance that was identified on the successful Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-3 launch last October,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. “Although the GPS IIF-3 spacecraft was accurately placed into the required orbit, ULA, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, and our U.S. Air Force teammates embarked on an investigation to determine why the upper stage engine performance was lower than expected. ULA completed a flight clearance assessment recently for the WGS-5 mission, and our Air Force customer also assessed and approved flight clearance for this Delta IV mission.”
Since the retirement of NASA’s fleet of space shuttles there has been a misperception in the general public that the United States is no longer launching missions into space. ULA launches, on average, about once a month. These flights include a wide range of missions, from planetary exploration to communications to national defense.
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