Thursday, November 12, 2009

Live At The Cape: Atlas Rocket Rolls Out For Launch

A towering Atlas V rocket is perched on its oceanside launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station today as United Launch Alliance continues to gear up for a launch early Saturday of a commercial satellite-delivery mission.

The 19-story rocket and its payload -- the Intelsat-14 spacecraft -- are scheduled to blast off from Launch Complex 41 at the air base at 12:48 a.m. Saturday. The launch window will extend through 2:18 a.m.

Air Force meteorologists say there is a 70 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for launch.

Low pressure off the Carolina coast is producing gusty winds that are expected to persist until Friday afternoon as well as light rain drizzles associated with cloudiness that has swept into the area.

The primary concerns on launch day will be a chance of stiff ground winds and electrically charged clouds that could cause the rocket to trigger destructive bolts of lightning in flight.

Check out the Official Weather Forecast from the Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron. The squadron provides tracking, range safety and weather forecasting services for all launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

The Atlas V was assembled in the Vertical Integration Facility, or the VIF, at Launch Complex 41. The powerful rocket was pushed out to the launch pad there earlier this morning.

The Intelsat-14 spacecraft will join the world’s largest fixed satellite services fleet. Established in 1964, Intelsat operates more than 50 commercial communications satellites that provide service to 1,800 customers in 200 countries.

The spacecraft being launched Saturday is equipped with 66 channels that will beam signals to customers in North America, Central America, South America, Europe and Africa.

It also is outfitted with a U.S. Department of Defense payload designed to demonstrate a capability to beam the Internet through space.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the United Launch Alliance image of the Atlas V-024 rocket on its pad at Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. You can also click the enlarged image to get an even bigger, more detailed view. Photo Credit: Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance.


Anonymous said...

A beautiful sight would be a module with people in it - sitting on top of the Atlas!! This would take advantage of the flight experience we have with Atlas, and would give us a reliable booster for people.

Anonymous said...

Guys, the launch is at 12:48 not 2:48, and this isn't "the first launch of an Atlas V rocket with a five-meter payload fairing and four strap-on solid rocket motors."

You are completely confusing the upcoming Delta IV WGS 3 launch.

The Atlas is flying with three solids and a four meter fairing, and it isn't the first time.

Todd Halvorson said...

Anonymous: Thanks. You're completely right. Appreciate the heads up. We've fixed the item.