CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – Blastoff of an advanced communications satellite for the US Navy is set for early Wednesday morning, Sept. 2, using the most powerful variant of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket – following a 48 hour postponement due to terrible weather expected from Tropical Storm Erika, which pounded islands in the Caribbean causing destruction and over 20 deaths.
The threat of strong winds and heavy rains forced Florida Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency in every county in Florida last Friday that was still in effect as rains doused central Florida on Monday.
ULA decided against rolling the Atlas V rocket out to the seaside pad on Saturday in support of the then planned launch of the Multi-User Objective System satellite on Aug. 31.
Liftoff of the Multi-User Objective System-4 (MUOS-4) satellite for the US Navy is now slated for 5:59 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and will be broadcast live.
The launch window extends for 44 minutes from 5:59-6:43 a.m. EDT and the weather outlook is now promising.
US Air Force weather forecasters currently predict a 70% chance of favorable weather conditions for “GO” at launch time on Wednesday morning.
The primary concern is for cumulus clouds.
The unmanned Atlas V expendable rocket will launch in its mightiest configuration known as the Atlas V 551 with five solid rocket boosters augmenting the first stage.
Therefore the predawn liftoff is expected to be absolutely spectacular, resonating with a thunderous roar rising on a huge smoke trail that will light up the darkened skies all around the Florida Space Coast for spectators here and far beyond.
You can watch the launch on your laptop or smart phone since it will be carried live on a ULA webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com
The ULA webcast starts about 20 minutes before launch.
The launch time moves up 4 minutes in the event of a 24 hour delay. The weather prognosis stands at 70 percent “GO”.
MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system designed to significantly improve ground communications for U.S. forces on the move.
This is the fourth and last satellite in the MUOS series and will provide military users 10 times more communications capability over existing systems, including simultaneous voice, video and data, leveraging 3G mobile communications technology.
MUOS-3 launched earlier this year.
The launch countdown will begin at 11:09 p.m. EDT on Tuesday night, Sept. 1, followed by fueling of the Atlas V rocket.
Ken is onsite for launch coverage from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Kennedy Space Center.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.
Learn more about MUOS-4 US Navy launch, Orion, SLS, SpaceX, Boeing, ULA, Space Taxis, Mars rovers, Orbital ATK, Antares, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Sep 1 – Sep 2: “MUOS-4 launch, Orion, Commercial crew, Curiosity explores Mars, Antares and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings