United Launch Alliance’s first mission of the year will debut a new configuration of the company’s workhorse Atlas 5 rocket when it lifts off at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) Friday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The rocket, featuring a wide fairing and a single solid rocket booster, will carry two U.S. military tracking and inspection satellites into geosynchronous orbit during a nearly seven-hour flight sequence.
United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket has flown in 10 different configurations over 90 missions since 2002, each version optimized to haul satellites of a certain size and mass into space. The only variant of the Atlas 5 rocket yet to fly is set to launch Friday afternoon from Cape Canaveral with a pair of satellites to help the U.S. military keep track of traffic in geosynchronous orbit.
Keeping up a rapid-fire launch cadence to begin 2022, SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 rocket Tuesday night from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with 49 Starlink internet satellites. Liftoff from pad 39A occurred at 9:02 p.m. EST Tuesday (0202 GMT Wednesday), following a one-day delay to wait for better conditions in the offshore booster recovery zone north of the Bahamas.