United Launch Alliance’s next Atlas 5 rocket moved to its launch pad Wednesday at Cape Canaveral, taking position for liftoff with the U.S. military’s sixth and final Advanced Extremely High Frequency secure communications satellite.
The 197-foot-tall (60-meter) Atlas 5 rocket, fitted with five strap-on solid rocket boosters, completed the third-of-a-mile trip pushed by trackmobiles along rail tracks laid between ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility and Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad.
Liftoff is scheduled for 2:57 p.m. EDT (1857 GMT) Thursday, the opening of a two-hour launch window.
The combined Atlas 5 rocket and mobile launch platform during rollout weighed around 1.9 million pounds.
ULA crews assembled the Atlas 5 launcher inside the Vertical Integration Facility. The stacking began Feb. 19 with the hoisting of the Atlas 5’s first stage — powered by a Russian-made RD-180 engine — on the mobile launch platform inside the VIF.
Ground teams then installed the five Aerojet Rocketdyne-made solid rocket boosters and lifted the Atlas 5’s Centaur upper stage on top of the rocket. The final piece added to the rocket was the U.S. Space Force’s AEHF 6 communications satellite inside the Atlas 5’s Swiss-made payload shroud.
Photos of Wednesday’s rollout are posted below.
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