On Tuesday afternoon, United Launch Alliance launched a new missile warning satellite for the United States Space Force from Florida.
The Atlas V rocket took off from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 1:37 p.m. EDT into a largely blue sky. The car reached 2,000 mph after just a minute of takeoff.
According to the Space Force, the spacecraft, designated as SBIRS GEO 5, is the fifth in a series that uses infrared sensors to track missile launches around the globe.
According to ULA, the Centaur second stage of the rocket released the SBIRS satellite over the Indian Ocean about 43 minutes after launch into the expected orbit. In 2022, the launch company intends to launch the sixth and final SBIRS spacecraft.
According to ULA’s mission profile, the spacecraft is the first of the SBIRS GEO to operate on an improved platform that provides better anti-jamming capabilities and more fuel.
According to Lockheed Martin, one of the infrared sensors “continuously scans the Earth” to have around-the-clock global strategic missile warning capabilities.
Another sensor, called a step-starer, has an accurate pointing and control system to scan “specific intelligence areas of interest,” according to the company.
The SBIRS satellites were used in January 2020, when Iran attacked the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq, where U.S. troops were stationed, Air Force Lt. Adam Farah said during the mission webcast.
“Operators were able to use the SBIRS capabilities to detect the threat, warn our troops on the direct path of the missile,” Farah said.
According to a ULA announcer during the webcast, the rocket also carried two small military demonstration satellites, TD3 and TD4, funded by the Department of Astronautics and the United States Air Force Academy.
The launch was postponed on Monday due to a possible problem found by electronic sensors in the liquid oxygen propellant fuel supply facility, according to ULA.