Monday, November 23, 2009

Atlas 5 Lifts-off following delay due to Winds

A beautiful night launch illuminated America's Space Coast this morning following a 65 minute delay due to high upper level winds over the area.

Launch of the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 occurred at 1:55:01 am EST, this morning from launch complex 41 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Through Sunday night, the launch team marched toward a 12:50 am lift-off. However, high winds between 22,000 to 25,000 feet created concern as weather officials released several weather balloons checking for any changes in the winds.

The white and bronze Atlas rocket steered out over the dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean and into a star filled sky.

Powered by three solid rocket boosters and a kerosene RD-180 core engine, the Atlas steered southeast as it gained altitude. Ninety-two seconds into the flight, the SRB's ended their job with burnout. Forty seconds later, the three boosters separated from the core stage.

The primary payload of this 19th flight of an Atlas 5 is the Space Systems/Loral-built Intelsat 14 communications spacecraft which will provide television and high speed data for the America's, Europe and Africa.

Following several burns and a coast phase, the Atlas' upper stage released Intelsat 14 while over the southeastern Indian Ocean at 3:53 am EST.

Intelsat 14 will replace the aging Intelsat 1R, according to ULA. The 12,300 pound satellite will operate from a position over the equator at 45 degrees West.

This morning's launch marked the 601st Atlas flight since the late 1950's with half of those occurring here at Cape Canaveral.

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