United Launch Alliance returns to one of its two main pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Wednesday to try to break a string of recent launch scrubs due to various issues, mostly related to ground systems.
The company’s Atlas V rocket is scheduled to liftoff from Space Launch Complex-41 at 5:54pm EST (22:54 UTC), carrying a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. The mission is named NROL-101, and its final orbit is classified. There is a 70-percent chance of favorable conditions.
The venerable Atlas V rocket, which has flown 85 missions since its debut in 2002, will be testing new hardware with this flight. For the first time, the Atlas V will use solid-rocket boosters built by Northrop Grumman rather than Aerojet Rocketdyne. These GEM-63 boosters cost less than the booster previously used. United Launch Alliance plans to use an extended version of this booster, the GEM-63L, on its Vulcan rocket, which could make its first flight in a year or so.
Perhaps the biggest question heading into today’s launch attempt is whether the Atlas V rocket will get off the ground. This mission was originally scheduled to launch on Tuesday, but after a rollout on Monday, the company discovered a problem with an environmental control…