The 75th Atlas 5 rocket rolled to its launch pad at Cape Canaveral on Wednesday, a day before it was scheduled to lift off with a U.S. Air Force satellite to provide warnings of missile launches that might threaten U.S. territories and allies.
The 189-foot-tall United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket rode a mobile launch platform for the 1,800-foot trip from its Vertical Integration Facility to Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad Wednesday. The trip along rail tracks took a little over a half-hour to complete.
Liftoff is scheduled for a 40-minute window opening at 7:52 p.m. EST Thursday (0052 GMT Friday).
The mission will loft the Air Force’s fourth Space Based Infrared System, or SBIRS, satellite bound for geosynchronous orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator. From that position, the SBIRS GEO Flight 4 spacecraft will detect and track missile launches, alerting the military of threats that might be heading toward the United States or its allies.
The SBIRS GEO Flight 4 spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, will join three similar satellites launched on Atlas 5 missions in 2011, 2013 and 2017.
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