Watch live: ULA to launch missile defense satellite on Friday

Jan. 19 (UPI) — After Thursday’s launch was scrubbed, United Launch Alliance will again try to carry a missile defense satellite into low-Earth orbit on Friday. ULA’s Atlas V rocket is scheduled to blast-off at 7:48 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex-41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Friday’s mission will continue the ongoing modernization of the United States’ missile monitoring technology. The payload includes GEO-4, the fourth satellite in the Space-Based Infrared System, or SBIRS.

ULA expects a 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for Friday’s launch. The blastoff and early portion of the flight will be streamed live.

Lockheed Martin was responsible for the design and construction of GEO-4, while the U.S. Air Force manages the missile defense system.

Thursday’s launch was delayed “due to a ground issue associated with the booster liquid oxygen system,” ULA wrote on Twitter.

The SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite is the fourth to be launched by ULA and the Air Force.

According to Tom McCormick, vice president for Lockheed Martin’s overhead persistent infrared systems mission area, the satellite will complete the original baseline constellation, allowing SBIRS to finally offer worldwide coverage.

The improved technology infrared-tracking technology offered by SBIRS will help the Air Force identify dimmer targets. Officials say the U.S. military must continually improve the system’s capabilities to detect missiles designed to an undetectably small a heat signature.

The SBIRS satellites will collect data and relay it to an Air Force command center where it will be used to issue missile warnings and inform decisions related to missile defense systems, as well as improve battle space awareness and technical intelligence.


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