Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Atlas V on pad for Thursday evening Air Force launch

An Atlas V rocket carrying a mini space shuttle-like spacecraft is secured to its pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41.

The 19-story United Launch Alliance rocket began rolling from its processing tower at 10:20 a.m. and was on the pad about 40-minutes later, at 11:03 a.m.

Systems on the rocket and unmanned Orbital Test Vehicle spacecraft systems will be hooked up and tested prior to a scheduled 7:52 p.m. Thursday launch. The launch window lasts nine minutes.

The countdown officially starts at 12:42 p.m. Thursday.

Today's forecast continues to show an 80-percent chance of good weather during Thursday's launch window and on Friday, in the event the launch is delayed a day. Cumulus clouds are the primary concern.

Check out maps of the launch hazard area mariners should avoid and restricted airspace during the countdown and flight, between 4:30 p.m. and 10 p.m..

And check out this fact sheet for more background on the Air Force's OTV spacecraft, which evolved from NASA's former X-37B program.

IMAGE: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Air Force's Orbital Test Vehicle rolls out to its Space Launch Complex-41 launch pad arriving at 11 a.m. EDT today. The OTV, also known as the X-37B, supports space experimentation, risk reduction, and concept of operations development for long duration and reusable space vehicle technologies. Photos by Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance.


Anonymous said...

Don't you mean a 7:52 PM launch???? Don't think they'd start the countdown after it launched...

James Dean said...

Thanks for the catch -- sorry about that. It's fixed now. Launch window is 7:52 P.M. to 8:01 P.M.