SCRUB! ULA Atlas V Was Ready for Overnight Dec. 5 Launch on STP-3 Mission for Space Force and NASA: Photos

SCRUB! ULA Atlas V Was Ready for Overnight Dec. 5 Launch on STP-3 Mission for Space Force and NASA: Photos
ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force and NASA targeting launch on Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:04 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, FL – BREAKING NEWS:  Just as I was writing this preview story for the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket launch of the $1 Billion STP-3 space technology demonstration mission aiding both U.S national security and NASA high speed communications research scheduled for overnight Sunday morning, Dec. 5, the company just announced at least a 24 hour delay when a leak of RP-1 propellant was discovered in the ground support equipment at pad 41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

RP-1 is a highly-refined rocket-grade kerosene fuel and one of two first stage propellants for the Atlas V rocket.

Liftoff of ULA Atlas V launch carrying the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force was planned on Sun., Dec. 5 at 4:04 a.m. EST (0904 GMT) from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

ULA announced the scrub via tweet at 7:07 p.m. ET this evening

ULA is tentatively retargeting liftoff for the same time on Monday. But further delays are possible as ULA crews continues assessment and cleanup work.

Launch is now scheduled for Mon., Dec. 6 at 4:04 a.m. EST (0904 GMT) from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

UpClose nose cone and logo view on ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force and NASA targeting launch on Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:04 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

The payload for the launch of the ULA Atlas V was the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) including payloads for the Space Force as well as NASA – that will be launched directly to geosynchronous orbit (GSO) over a seven-hour period. Further details below.

The mission will be the longest to date lasting over seven hours from launch to payload separation during the rockets ascent – which required development of a new longer lasting battery – the In-Flight Power System (IFPS) – to keep the batteries on the payloads fully charged.

The weather outlook for Sunday’s planned launch was extremely favorable showing 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

The launch window extends for two hours until 6:04 a.m. EST (1104 GMT).

The weather outlook for Monday’s launch attempt drops slightly to an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

GO STP-3! ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force and NASA targeting launch on Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:04 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

We media completed our remote cameras setups today, Saturday afternoon, Dec. 4.

Enjoy our ULA Atlas V STP-3 mission pre-launch pad and rollout photos from the Space UpClose team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright.

Photographers set remote cameras: ULA Atlas V rocket for Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for U.S. Space Force and NASA targets launch on Dec. 6, 2021 from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: Jean Wright/SpaceUpClose.com

You can watch the Atlas V STP-3 launch broadcast live on ULA and NASA webcasts:

ULA updates from the launch control center will now begin with live countdown updates on ULA’s webpage Sunday, Dec. 5 at 8:30 p.m. EST (0130 GMT Monday , Dec. 6) just prior to starting the countdown.

Watch live:    www.ulalaunch.com

https://www.ulalaunch.com/missions/next-launch/atlas-v-stp-3

The live video webcast of the launch begins at 3:30 a.m. EST (0830 UTC) and will be viewable on the ULA webpage live on www.ulalaunch.com and on NASA TV.

The ULA Atlas V is launching in its most powerful configuration – the 551 version with the maximum liftoff thrust amounting to  approx. 2.6 million pounds of sea-level liftoff thrust

 

Tank farm view of Atlas V beside Liquid Oxygen (LOX tank). ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force and NASA targeting launch on Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:04 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

The two stage Atlas V 551 configuration rocket includes a 5.4 meter payload fairing and stands 196 ft. (59.7 m) tall.

The Atlas first stage booster is powered by the Russian made RD AMROSS RD-180 single engine with dual thrust chambers and nozzles providing 860,200 lb sea level liftoff thrust.  It is fueled by RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOX).

The booster is augmented with five strap on Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM) 63 solid rocket boosters (SRBs) provided by Northrop Grumman and provide 371,550 lb thrust each.

Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage with generates 22,900 lb thrust.  Fueld by LOX and LH2 (liquid hydrogen).

The STP-3 mission is a co-manifested mission with two spacecraft that “matures technology and reduces future space program risk for the Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Space Force by advancing warfighting capabilities in the areas of nuclear detonation detection, space domain awareness (SDA), weather, and communication,” says ULA. See rocket graphic below.

The primary spacecraft is STP Satellite (STPSat-6) and the rideshare spacecraft is the Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) LDPE-1.

Both spacecraft will be delivered to geosynchronous orbit (GSO) – via a direct injection rather than delivered to LEO for orbit raising

Watch this description by ULA CEO Tory Bruno of the STP-3 mission and the direct injection into GSO:

Video Caption: ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno gives a mission overview of the Atlas V 551 rocket that will launch the Space Test Program (STP)-3 mission for the U.S. Space Force. Credit: ULA

“STP-3 is a unique mission as the Atlas V will deliver STP-3 directly into Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO). This is a highly complex orbital insertion that requires three Centaur burns and precise navigation, a capability unique to the Atlas V. This is our longest mission to date at seven hours and 10 minutes until final spacecraft separation,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs.

“We are proud to work alongside our mission partners to prepare to launch this challenging mission and thank them for their outstanding teamwork.”

The STPSat-6 satellite comprises several payloads including: the Space and Atmospheric Burst Reporting System 3 (SABRS-3), an operational mission from the National Nuclear Security Administration, NASA’s Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload to test technologies for the next generation of data relay satellites, and several Department of Defense Space Experiments Review Board space weather and situational awareness payloads.

The SABRS-3 payload is an operational mission involving nuclear detonation detection from the National Nuclear Security Administration that will enhance US capabilities when adversaries set off a nuclear test blast.

NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will showcase the unique capabilities of optical communications.

Most NASA missions use radio frequency communications to send data to and from spacecraft since the beginning of the space age.

“However, as space missions generate and collect more data, the need for enhanced communications capabilities becomes paramount, says NASA.

“Optical communications will provide significant benefits for missions, including bandwidth increases of 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems.”

LCRD optical communications tests will also be done with the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2022 or early 2023 after communication hardware is shipped up to the ISS sometime in 2022, NASA official told Space UpClose.

STP missions have been flying for over 50 years for the US Department of Defense (DOD):

 

ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force and NASA targeting launch on Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:04 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

The weather forecast from the Space Force was excellent:

Launch Forecast Summary:

Dec 5: Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 10%

Primary concerns: Cumulus Cloud Rule

Dec. 6: Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24-hour delay: 20%

Primary concern: Cumulus Cloud Rule

UpClose nose cone and logo view on ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force and NASA targeting launch on Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:04 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: Jean Wright/SpaceUpClose.com

Here is a launch visibility map from ULA showing when and where spectators in the Southeast US can see the launch.

The Atlas V was rolled out to pad 41 on Dec. 3 atop the MLP. Fully fueled the rocket was a mass of nearly 1.3 million pounds (590,000 kg).

Here’s my views of the rollout as seen a dozen miles away in Titusville across from the Indian River Lagoon.

Rollout of ULA Atlas V rocket on Dec. 3, 2021 from the VIF to pad 41 for the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force and NASA targeting launch on Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:04 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. As seen from the Indian River Lagoon in Titusville. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

 

Overall this marks the 90th Atlas V launch

To date ULA has launched 146 times with 100 percent mission success.

Watch Ken’s commentary at WFTV ABC 9 Orlando about the ULA Atlas V launch Dec 5 of STP-3 space technology demonstration satellite with US Space Force & NASA payloads in particular for nuclear blast detonation detection:

https://www.wftv.com/news/local/ula-rolls-out-atlas-v-rocket-ahead-launch-set-this-weekend/JRO64EVRSRHVPM3YHVWZ2F2MJM/

 

Dr. Ken Kremer of Space UpClose interviewed on WFTV ABC 9 Orlando about ULA STP-3 launch on Dec. 2, 2021 and December’s upcoming busy manifest of 5 rocket launches from Florida Space Coast. Screenshot: WFTV ABC/Space UpClose

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about National Security missions, SpaceX  Starlink , SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, DART,  Lucy Asteroid mission, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

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.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Please consider supporting Ken’s work by purchasing his photos and/or donating at Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/kenkremer

 

STP-3 mission rocket graphic of Atlas V rocket components and two payloads; STP Satellite (STPSat)-6 and the rideshare spacecraft is the Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) (LDPE) – 1. Credit: ULA

 

 

Rollout of ULA Atlas V rocket on Dec. 3, 2021 from the VIF to pad 41 for the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the U.S. Space Force and NASA targeting launch on Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:04 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. As seen from the Indian River Lagoon in Titusville. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

 

Space UpClose team of Jean Wright and Ken Kremer setting up remote cameras for ULA Atlas V launch and STP-3 mission on Dec. 4, 2021 at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

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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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