CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium (4,2) configuration rocket carrying two U.S. military space surveillance satellites is scheduled to lift off on Friday, August 19, 2016, between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Launch Weather 80% 'GO'
According to the latest weather forecast from the United States Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is an 80% chance overall of acceptable weather conditions for Friday's early morning launch. The primary weather concern for launch is cumulus clouds.
The launch mission, dubbed AFSPC-6, will deliver two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites to near-geosynchronous orbit.
The twin GSSAP spacecraft, built by Orbital ATK, will support U.S. Strategic Command space surveillance operations and collect space situational awareness data allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of man-made orbiting objects.
From a near-geosynchronous orbit, the satellites will have a clear, unobstructed and distinct vantage point for viewing other satellites without the interruption of weather or the atmospheric distortion that can limit ground-based systems. The GSSAP satellites will operate near the geosynchronous belt and will have the capability to perform Rendezvous and Proximity Operations which allows for the space vehicle to maneuver near a resident space object of interest, enabling characterization for anomaly resolution and enhanced awareness, while maintaining flight safety.
Data from GSSAP will help the U.S. military make timely and accurate orbital predictions, increase U.S. intelligence of the geosynchronous orbit environment, and further enable space flight safety to include satellite collision avoidance. GSSAP satellites will communicate information through the world wide Air Force Satellite Control Network ground stations, then to Schriever Air Force Base, CO where 50th Space Wing satellite operators of the 1st Space Operations Squadron will oversee day-to-day operations.
Image credit: ULA