by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral AFS FL (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 3 satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 Jan. 20 at 7:42 p.m. ET. SBIRS GEO Flight 3 is considered one of the nation's highest priority space programs.
"ULA is proud to deliver this critical satellite which will improve surveillance capabilities for our national decision makers," said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. "I can't think of a better way to kick off the new year."
This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter diameter large payload fairing (LPF). The Atlas V booster propulsion for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine.
"The Atlas V 401 configuration has become the workhorse of the Atlas V fleet, delivering half of all Atlas V missions to date" said Maginnis. "ULA understands that even with the most reliable launch vehicles, our sustained mission success is only made possible with seamless integration between our customer and our world class ULA team."
The Space Based Infrared System is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands in four national security mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness.
This is ULA's first launch of 11 planned launches in 2017 and the 116th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
ULA's next East Coast launch is the Delta IV WGS-9 satellite for the U.S. Air Force. The launch is scheduled for March 8 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Aerojet Rocketdyne Supports Launch
Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion systems on the Atlas V include the RL10C-1 upper-stage engine, six helium pressurization tanks, and 12 Centaur upper-stage Reaction Control System thrusters (RCS); also, Aerojet Rocketdyne provided 18 monopropellant hydrazine thrusters on the GEO Flight 3 satellite.
"It's an honor to know our propulsion systems helped place another critical satellite into orbit in support of our nation's defense - one that will provide key capabilities in the areas of missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness," said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake.
Aerojet Rocketdyne's RL10C-1 upper-stage engine ignited after separation of the first stage to place the payload into orbit, helped by the Centaur RCS thrusters and pressurization tanks. The RL10C-1 delivers 22,890 pounds of thrust to power the Atlas V upper stage, using cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants.
The RL10C-1 was developed from the RL10 family of upper-stage engines, which have accumulated one of the most impressive track records of accomplishments in the history of space propulsion. More than 475 RL10 engines have supported launches over the last 50 years, playing a vital role in placing military, government and commercial satellites into orbit, and powering scientific space-probes on every interplanetary mission in our solar system.
Aerojet Rocketdyne provides 12 MR-106 monopropellant hydrazine thrusters in four modules on the Atlas V Centaur upper-stage which provide roll, pitch and yaw control, as well as settling burns. The GEO Flight 3 satellite has 18 monopropellant hydrazine thrusters onboard: 12 MR-103G 0.2-lbf thrusters and six MR-106L 5-lbf thrusters.
Once separated from the launch vehicle, the 18 thrusters on the GEO Flight 3 satellite provide stationkeeping, three-axis control and de-spinning of the reaction wheels throughout the mission. They also provide attitude control during orbit-raising, as well as the impulse needed for final decommissioning of the satellite.
ARDE, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne based in New Jersey, provided the pressure vessels on the first and second stages of the launch vehicle.
Orbital ATK Contributions Critical
The SBIRS constellation is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared and taskable surveillance capabilities to meet 21st Century demands in the areas of missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness. Lockheed Martin Space Systems (NYSE: LMT) designed and built the GEO Flight 3 satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
"It was great to see another successful ULA Atlas V launch that flew Orbital ATK-produced structures and components for both the launch vehicle and satellite," said Steve Earl, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK's Aerospace Structures Division. "No matter the mission, this is a really good example of the breadth of our product line and the critical role we play in almost every EELV launch."
The Orbital ATK components utilize the latest, cutting-edge technology across multiple Orbital ATK facilities. These include large composite structures, retro rocket motors and state-of-the art propellant tanks.
For the ULA Atlas V rocket, Orbital ATK produced the 10-foot diameter composite heat shield, which provides higher performance with lower weight, and essential protection for the first stage of the launch vehicle from engine exhaust temperatures in excess of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The assembly was fabricated using advanced fiber placement manufacturing techniques at Orbital ATK's Iuka, Mississippi facility. This is the 69th Atlas V launch using Orbital ATK-built composite structures.
This launch also marked the 34th successful flight of Orbital ATK produced retro rocket motors. Eight of these solid motors supported separation of the spent first stage. The Atlas retrorocket is built at Orbital ATK's Missile Defense and Controls facility in Elkton, Maryland. Orbital ATK manufactured the Reaction Control System propellant tank for the Atlas V at its Commerce, California facility.
For the GEO Flight 3 satellite, Orbital ATK provided propellant and pressurant tanks manufactured in its Commerce, California facility.
United Launch Alliance
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