Air Force Missile Warning SBIRS GEO 4 Satellite Poised for Spectacular Night Liftoff Jan. 18: Watch Live

ULA Atlas V at Sunset
at pad 41
on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla that will deliver SBIRS GEO Flight 4 to geosynchronous orbit
for the USAF on Jan. 18, 2018.
Credit: Ken Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com
Ken
Kremer     SpaceUpClose.com     17
Jan 2018

CAPE
CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – A U.S. Air Force satellite that will provide
vital early warnings on incoming enemy missiles that are critical to the
defense of our homeland sits poised for a spectacular nighttime blastoff on
Thursday Jan. 18 from the Florida Space Coast.

The
Atlas V rocket carrying the $1.2 Billion
SBIRS
GEO Flight 4
infrared imaging satellite counts as the first
launch of 2018 by rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA) from Florida’s
Spaceport and the second overall for ULA in 2018 – following last week’s NRO NROL-47
launch on the last Delta IV medium from Vandenberg AFB, California. 

Following
last weeks SpaceX Zuma launch (read our stories) it’s the years second liftoff
from Cape Canaveral.

ULA Atlas V at Sunset
at pad 41
on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla that will deliver SBIRS GEO Flight 4 to geosynchronous orbit
for the USAF on Jan. 18, 2018.
Credit: Ken Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com

The
crucial role of SBIRS was highlighted just days ago by the false missile attack
alert  alarm sent out by Hawaiian state
authorities with the
Emergency
Management Agency (EMA) warning of an
imminent ballistic missile attack of the type that this satellite would detect.
The false alarm panicked hordes of residents and tourists alike and took 38
minutes to correct.

At
T-minus 1 day, the ULA Atlas V rocket is ready for liftoff on Thursday, Jan. 18
from seaside Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in
Florida. 

“The ULA Launch Readiness
Review is complete! ULA’s Atlas V rocket is set to launch the SBIRS GEO Flight
4 mission,” ULA announced today.

The
20 story tall rocket and payload were rolled out vertically this morning, Jan.
17, some 1800 feet (600 m) from the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF)
processing hangar to pad 41 – in the shadow of the debut SpaceX Falcon Heavy
raised vertical at adjacent pad 39A.
  The Atlas V on top of the mobile launch
platform was pushed out using two “trackmobiles.”

SpaceUpClose
watched the rollout first hand and got an UpClose view of the rocket while
setting up remote cameras at the pad this afternoon. Check out our photos and related
new articles.
A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS
GEO Flight 4 mission to geosynchronous orbit for the U.S. Air Force
was
rolled from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch
Complex-41 on
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on Jan. 17, 2018.   Launch set for
Jan. 18, 2018. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com
It’s
a remarkable first having a ULA Atlas V and SpaceX Falcon Heavy poised for
liftoff on neighboring launch pads.

The
launch of SBIRS GEO Flight 4 comes almost exactly 1 year after the
SBIRS GEO 3 launch likewise on an Atlas V.  The satellites were built by prime contractor
Lockheed Martin.

The
Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite will be launched to
geosynchronous transfer orbit some
22,000 miles
(36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS
GEO Flight 4 mission to geosynchronous orbit for the U.S. Air Force
was
rolled from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch
Complex-41 on
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on Jan. 17, 2018.   Launch set for
Jan. 18, 2018. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com
It
is the fourth satellite in this series of infrared surveillance satellites that
will provide rapid and accurate warning of attacking enemy strategic missiles
via infrared signatures – as well as critical targeting data to US missile
defense systems to enable swiftly responding launches that will hopefully
destroy the attackers in the battle space arena before impacting US cities,
infrastructure and military installations.

With
the unpredictable North Korean dictator Kim John Un repeatedly launching ever
more powerful and upgraded long range intercontinental ballistic missiles this past
year that could potentially strike virtually the entire United States land mass,
SBIRS GEO 4 is more important than ever for our national defense.

The launch window opens at
7:52 p.m. EST
(0052 GMT).

The launch window extends for 40 minutes from 7:52-8:32
p.m. EST.

Spectators are flocking into Space Coast area
hotels for the super convenient dinnertime blastoff. And they will have a blast
! – if all goes well. 
 

You can watch the Atlas
launch live via a ULA webcast. The live launch broadcast will begin about 20
minutes before the planned liftoff at
7:32 p.m. EST here:

and 

The current launch weather forecast for Thursday,
Jan. 18, calls for an 90 percent chance of acceptable weather conditions at
launch time.  The primary concern is for
cumulus clouds.

The backup launch opportunity is on Friday.

In case of a scrub for any reason, technical or
weather, the chances remain favorable at 90% GO. 

Up close view of the nose cone housing the SBIRS GEO Flight 4 satellite mission for
the U.S. Air Force that will launch atop a ULA Atlas V rocket from Space Launch
Complex-41 on
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
Fla.,
on Jan. 18, 2018.   Credit: Ken Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com
 



“SBIRS, considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs, is
designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to
meet 21st century demands in four national security mission areas including:
missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace
awareness.”

The
first SBIRS satellite was launched in 2011 and the second in 2013.  

SBIRS GEO 4 will
launch southeast at an inclination of 16.88 degrees. It separates from the 2nd
stage 42 minutes and 31 seconds after liftoff.

Up close view of the nose cone housing the SBIRS GEO Flight 4 satellite mission for
the U.S. Air Force that will launch atop a ULA Atlas V rocket from Space Launch
Complex-41 on
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
Fla.,
on Jan. 18, 2018.   Credit: Ken Kremer/SpaceUpClose.com
ULA has enjoyed a 100%
success rate up to this 75th Atlas V launch stretching back to the
company’s founding back in 2006 and the Atlas V inaugural flight in 2002.

ULA is a joint venture
of Boeing and Lockheed Martin with 124 successful launches under its belt. 

The 194-foot-tall commercial Atlas V booster launched in
the 411 rocket configuration with approximately 860,000 pounds
of sea level
first stage thrust 
powered by
the dual nozzle Russian-built RD AMROSS
RD-180 engine. 
 There is one thrust augmenting solid attached
to the first stage generating approximately
348,500  pounds of
thrust.  
  

The satellite is housed inside a 4-meter diameter large payload fairing (LPF).  The Centaur upper stage is powered by the
Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine.

Watch this video showing the detailed mission profile:

https://youtu.be/WUaGSFND0no

Video Caption: Atlas V SBIRS GEO Flight 4 Mission Profile. An Atlas V 411 rocket
will launch the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission for
the U.S. Air Force to orbit from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-41. 
SBIRS, considered one of the nation’s highest priority
space programs, is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared
surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands.
Credit: ULA

This mission marks the 5th Atlas V mission in the 411 configuration,
including NASA’s OSIRIS-REX.

The three prior SBIRS GEO missions launched on the ULA Atlas V 401
configuration rocket.

The
SBIRS team is led by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air
Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the prime
contractor, with Northrop Grumman as the payload integrator. Air Force Space
Command operates the SBIRS system, according to a ULA description.

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of
Falcon Heavy, ULA and NASA and
space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral
Air Force Station, Florida.

Stay
tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human
spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com
– www.spaceupclose.com




Sunset view of ULA
Atlas V at pad 41 that will deliver
SBIRS GEO Flight 4 to geosynchronous orbit for the USAF on Jan. 18, 2018. Credit:
Julian Leek



SBIRS GEO Flight 4,
the next Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite to join the U.S. Air
Force’s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) during assembly and test at
Lockheed Martin’s satellite manufacturing facility in Sunnyvale, California.   Credit: Lockheed Martin



Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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