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United Launch Alliance (ULA) is making final preparations for Thursday’s launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, of a U.S. military satellite for early detection of missile launches.
With 80 percent favorable weather, a ULA Atlas V rocket is due to lift off with the device on top at 6:29 local time (10:29 GMT) from a pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
More than 3 hours after launch, the Lockheed Martin-built SBIRS GEO 6 satellite is expected to finally be placed into geosynchronous orbit (synchronized with the Earth’s rotation) where it will eventually operate as the other 5 in this program already do.
Thursday’s will be the sixth and final Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite, the first of which was placed in orbit in 2011 to replace the previous U.S. Army Defense Support Program system.
The others in this series of satellites built for the U.S. Space Force, one of the 8 arms of the U.S. Armed Forces, were successfully delivered in 2013, 2017, 2018, and 2021.
The satellites, which have merited an investment of billions of dollars, use infrared observation and scanning sensors to detect missile launches and have early warnings.
SBIRS GEO 6 is an enhanced space vehicle that provides even greater resilience and cyber hardening in the face of growing ballistic missile threats on the planet, ULA notes.
This will be the fifth mission so far this 2022 of the powerful Atlas V rocket.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will take off that day with the KPLO probe on its summit, in what will be South Korea’s first lunar mission.
The launch is scheduled for 7:03 p.m. local time Thursday (23:03 GMT), also from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, specifically from a neighboring pad from which the GEO 6 SBIRS will launch.
The square-shaped KPLO will arrive at the moon in mid-September and is scheduled to orbit the natural satellite for a year, during which time it will study its topography, environment, and possible future lunar landing sites.