The forecast track of Hurricane Ian across Central Florida has forced SpaceX and United Launch Alliance to postpone several launches planned in the coming days at Cape Canaveral, including the next crew flight to the International Space Station, a Starlink mission, and the liftoff of an Atlas 5 rocket.
The departure at dawn of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Thursday sent aloft the U.S. military’s last Space Based Infrared System missile warning satellite, a $1.2 billion mission billed by the Space Force as a stepping stone to a new generation of more sensitive sentinels in the sky.
With two rockets from industry rivals United Launch Alliance and SpaceX ready for liftoff just 12 hours apart Thursday, the Cape Canaveral spaceport is poised to surpass the record for most missions in a year to fly into orbit from its launch pads. The launch day doubleheader would also mark the shortest span between two space launches from Florida’s Space Coast since 1967.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket fired off its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Friday on a six-hour climb to geosynchronous orbit, deploying a classified payload and a U.S. Space Force satellite to test an improved infrared heat-sensitive sensor design that could help detect and track enemy hypersonic missiles.