Posted by Courtney E. Howard
CAPE CANAVERAL AFS, Fla., 9 May 2011. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite for the U.S. Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 401 vehicle configuration, which includes a 4-meter diameter payload fairing. The booster was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine; the Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL-10A engine.
This event marks the 50th launch for ULA since the company was formed in December 2006.
"This is a very important day for our customers and for our nation," says Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. "The ULA team is extremely proud to have served with this strong government and industry team in successfully launching the SBIRS GEO-1 satellite on its critical mission."
The SBIRS consolidated system is designed to meet U.S. infrared space surveillance needs and addresses critical warfighter needs in the areas of missile warning, missile defense, and battlespace characterization.
ULA's next launch is the Delta II Aquarius mission, scheduled for June 9, 2011 from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly, and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala.; Harlingen, Texas; and San Diego, Calif. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.