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Raumfahrt - Atlas-V mit NROL-36-Satelliten startklar

 

 

SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012
Ready to take a classified national security payload and a batch of hitchhiking cubesats into space early Thursday from California, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is in the final days of preparations for blastoff.
The middle-of-the-night launch will occur some time between 12 midnight and 1:30 a.m. local (3:00-4:30 a.m. EDT; 0700-0830 GMT). The actual target liftoff time has not yet been revealed.
MONDAY, JULY 30, 2012
9:45 a.m. local (12:45 p.m. EDT; 1645 GMT)
The target launch time for Thursday's Atlas 5 rocket has been announced to the public. Liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base is scheduled for 12:40 a.m. local (3:40 a.m. EDT; 0740 GMT).
The exact duration of the daily launch window hasn't been disclosed. But officials previously said the liftoff would not occur after 1:30 a.m. local.
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Fotos: ULA
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Top-secret surveillance spacecraft and several smaller research satellites will be launched aboard an Atlas 5 rocket scheduled for blastoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base early Thursday.
The United Launch Alliance rocket is sitting at Space Launch Complex-3 East on South Base, where crews have spent the past several months preparing the booster for blastoff.
The team is shooting for liftoff at 12:40 a.m. Thursday, Air Force officials said. The actual launch window remains top secret but officials earlier said the liftoff would occur by 1:30 a.m.
However, unfavorable weather or technical troubles can delay launches. For Thursday, weather officers are calling for a 10 percent likelihood of a delay with cumulus clouds cited as the chief concern.
Visibility might be troublesome for would-be spectators thanks to the coast’s traditional summertime marine layer.
“The typical marine layer will be in place, reducing visibility at SLC-3E throughout the entire count with some thin cirrus overhead,” forecasters said.
With fog in the forecast, visibility could be restricted to one-half mile, officials said.
Crews have been eyeing Aug. 2 as the departure day for months and the team didn’t face any significant problems in prepping the space booster, officials said.
Mission managers are set to meet today for a final launch readiness review.
“Things are actually looking really good. We are on track,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Gillen, who took the helm of the 4th Space Launch Squadron on June 18 at Vandenberg. “We are where we would hope to be, where we would expect to be at this point.”
The Atlas 5 booster will carry a clandestine satellite to orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office, and officials are remaining tight-lipped about its mission and cost.
“Any NRO launch is critical to national security, to delivering new intel capabilities out to the warfighters,” Gillen said. “There is an ever-growing need over the last 10 years and even though we are winding down some operations in Afghanistan and Iraq the need for intel is still growing. These satellites play a key role in providing that intelligence to the warfighters and the troops on the ground.”
Along with the primary payload 11 micro satellites, dubbed CubeSats, are slated to hitch a ride aboard the Atlas rocket.
Some of the CubeSats are part of NASA’s educational program that lets university students get hands-on experience. Students from Cal Poly are again participating.
 Vandenberg restricts access only to those with authorization to enter the base, but several public spots around the Lompoc Valley offer good views of launches from SLC-3. The Atlas 5 launch pad is visible on the horizon while looking toward South Base.
Possible off-base viewing sites include the peak of Harris Grade Road and several locations in south Vandenberg Village.
For safety reasons, Jalama Beach County Park, which is directly south of Vandenberg, will be evacuated from 8 p.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Thursday, officials said.
The Air Force also established a public viewing site on its land, but outside its gates, off Corral Road. To reach the area, take Highway 1 to the Santa Maria gate and proceed on Lompoc-Casmalia Road. At the barriers, turn right onto Corral Road and stay to the left.
This is the fourth of four NRO missions scheduled in 2012 from both Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
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Update: 2.08.2012
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An Atlas 5 rocket’s launch attempt from Vandenberg Air Force Base was scrubbed early today with the team now aiming for departure early Friday morning.
The new planned time for blastoff from Space Launch Complex-3 on South Base is 12:27 a.m. Friday, officials said.
The delay was blamed on a problem with Western Range instrumentation deemed mandatory for the rocket launch due to safety reasons.
The team reported the trouble about 12:40 a.m., but crews were unable to fix the problem before today’s launch opportunity expired.
Crews have a limited time to get the rocket off the ground each day so that the satellites are placed in the proper orbit.
Friday’s attempt is “pending resolution of the instrumentation issue,” officials said.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket and its primary payload, a classified spacecraft for the National Reconnaissance Office, remain “safe and secure,” officials said.
Weather conditions are not expected to interfere with Friday’s launch countdown.
Update: 3.08.2012 / 15.00 MESZ
An Atlas 5 rocket’s next try for liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base won’t come until Aug. 14 at the earliest after mission managers were forced to scrub the first countdown.
A new launch time was not yet available.
The delay of more than a week gives Western Range crews more time to resolve a problem with instrumentation deemed mandatory for the flight.
The Western Range is made up of a series of sensors at the base and elsewhere in California that tracks just-launched rockets and missiles from Vandenberg to ensure they remain safely on course.
The problem popped up as the team counted down toward liftoff early Thursday at Space Launch Complex-3 on South Base, but could not be resolved before the launch opportunity expired.
Crews have a limited time to get the rocket off the ground each day so that the satellites are placed in the proper orbit.
Initially, officials hoped to resume counting down toward launch Friday morning and then Saturday, but decided Thursday evening that even more time was needed to fix the range instrumentation issue.
An Aug. 14 attempt is contingent upon resolution of the range instrumentation problem, officials said.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket and its primary payload, a classified spacecraft for the National Reconnaissance Office, remain “safe and secure,” officials said.
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Update: 10.08.2012
Weitere Verzögerungen beim Start von Atlas-V-Rakete:
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A glitch with Western Range equipment has postponed the departure of an Atlas 5 rocket and its classified payload from Vandenberg Air Force Base again, delaying liftoff another two weeks.

The new launch date has not been set, but the blastoff isn’t expected to occur any earlier than Aug. 30, Air Force officials said Thursday afternoon.

The team came within minutes of liftoff early Aug. 2, but had to scrub the countdown because of a glitch involving Western Range equipment deemed critical for the mission.

“They’re still working the issue at this point,” Lt. Austin Fallin, a base spokesman, said Thursday morning.

The problem was billed initially as a 24-hour delay, pushing the mission to Aug. 3, and then another announcement said it would slip to Aug. 4. However, officials ruled the evening of Aug. 2 that they needed nearly two more weeks to resolve it. They had been targeting Aug. 14, but decided this week to scrap those plans so that Western Range crews would have more time.

“Our team has been working since then to identify the cause of the malfunction and to test and certify the MFCC (Mission Flight Control Center) for operations so Vandenberg can support a safe launch,” Vandenberg officials said in a written statement.

The Western Range is made up of a series of sensors at the base and elsewhere in California that tracks

just-launched rockets and missiles from Vandenberg to ensure they remain safely on course.

The malfunction occurred in Vandenberg’s Mission Flight Control Center, which processes radar, optical and telemetry data from the various instrumentation sites on and off Vandenberg, officials confirmed.

If a rocket or missile veers off course, a mission flight control officer at Vandenberg issues a command to terminate the flight.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket and its primary payload, a classified spacecraft for the National Reconnaissance Office, remain “safe and secure,” officials have said.

The delay means that another Atlas 5 rocket sitting at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., is expected to move to the front of the launch lineup. That mission with two NASA satellites is planned for Aug. 23.쇓

 
 
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