World news – usa – an Atlas 5 missile with a spy satellite on board takes off for a spectacular launch at sunset

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Written by William Harwood

November 13, 2020 / 6:26 PM
/ CBS News

The United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket blasted to life and blasted off Cape Canaveral in a dramatic sunset launch, presenting the Thirteenth Sky Show visible across the Florida coast this spectacular Friday. .

After being nine days late due to a problem with ground equipment, the Russian-made RD-180 prime mover took off with flames bursting at 5:32 pm. M. EST. , Followed by igniting three solid-fuel boosters, instantly propelling the 20-story missile away from Pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Just two miles away, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was ready for launch Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center to put four astronauts into orbit for a trip to the International Space Station, the first commercial mission approved by NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration..

The astronauts were scheduled to launch on Saturday, but the flight was delayed due to expected high winds at the launch site and marine weather as SpaceX plans to land the first stage of the missile on board a company’s drone.

However, with a crowd of reporters in hand to watch the Atlas launch, the missile accelerated smoothly as it consumed propellant and lost weight, as it ran across the velocity of sound and the aerodynamic maximum pressure zone as it ascended from the thick lower atmosphere and deflected Far to the northeast.

The three belt-mounted boosters burned out and fell as planned after about two minutes of flight and the ascent continued with RD-180 power.

Northrop Grumman’s 66-foot GEM 63 solid rocket engines were making their first flight, replacing AJ-60A SRMs made by Aerojet Rocketdyne that flew with all Atlas 5 aircraft equipped with an earlier booster. ULA says the new boosters are more economical and easier to handle while treating ground.

It appears that the boosters are working normally on Friday and after just over a minute passed away, the two halves of Atlas 5’s shell-like payload were peeling off, exposing the satellite to the space environment.

At this point, as usual with NRO-rated missions, the United Launch Alliance ended its mission suspension, leaving it to the Air Force to confirm a successful flight in a post-launch update after a period of satellite deployment..

No details have been released about the missile’s rated payload or intended orbit, but graphs published by the ULA prior to launch showed a northeastern path parallel to the U. s. East Coast, indicating that the orbit is tilted from 50 to 60 degrees or more to the equator.

Ted Molczan, respected independent satellite analyst, speculated that the payload was either a satellite data system spacecraft, used to capture and pass on signals from spy satellites in low orbits, or a signaling satellite used to eavesdrop on target communications.

Both types of satellites used steep and steep « Molniya » orbits in the past to observe Russia and other regions of importance in the Northern Hemisphere.. But details were not immediately available about the final orbit of the satellite, which was launched on Wednesday.

First published on November 13, 2020 / 6:26 PM

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Bill Harwood was covering the events of U. s. Full-time space program since 1984, first as Head of the Cape Canaveral office of United Press International and now as a consultant to CBS News. Covered 129 space shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2 flew Neptune and dozens of commercial and military launches. Located in the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia..

United Launch Alliance, Atlas V, Rocket, NRO, Space launch, Reconnaissance satellite, SpaceX, Cape Canaveral

World News – US – Atlas 5 missile with spy satellite on board It sets off in a stunning launch at sunset

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