The final launch of an Atlas 5 rocket from California took off early Thursday with NOAA’s JPSS 2 weather satellite and the LOFTID re-entry tech demo experiment for NASA. The Atlas 5 rocket launched at 1:49 a.m. PST (4:49 a.m. EST; 0949 GMT) Thursday from Vandenberg Space Force Base. United Launch Alliance has 19 more Atlas 5s slated to launch from Florida before the rocket’s retirement.
The first test flight of Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule with astronauts has been delayed from February to April 2023, moving the mission after a busy stretch of crew and cargo missions to the International Space Station, and allowing more time for engineers to address problems discovered on an unpiloted test flight earlier this year, NASA said last week.
Running a few days late after a delay caused by Hurricane Ian, an Atlas 5 rocket built by United Launch Alliance thundered off a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Tuesday and soared to an altitude of nearly 22,000 miles to deploy two commercial television broadcasting satellites for the commercial operator SES.
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.