Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Atlas 5 launches U.S. government's secret CLIO satellite

An Atlas 5 lifts-off from Cape Canaveral AFS on September 16. (ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A secret U.S. government spacecraft known as CLIO was successfully launched from America's Space Coast Tuesday to begin a multi-year mission based on global security in earth orbit.

As lightning and rain showers closed in on the launch pad, controllers with United Launch Alliance elected to delay the lift-off. Reports of lightning strikes four miles from the fully fueled rocket and thick clouds overhead forced launch control to extend the delay as they checked launch pad electronics.
As the two and one-half hour launch window neared the end, controllers saw the weather turn favorable and restarted the countdown during the window's final minute.
The forty-ninth Atlas V mission began at 8:10 p.m. EDT, as it thundered into Florida's cloudy night sky on a southeastward trajectory out over the Atlantic waters. Ninety seconds later, the white and bronze rocket was moving faster than the speed of sound powered by the core first stage's RD-180 engine.
The first stage fell away following engine shutdown four minutes into it's launch profile. The rocket's centaur engine's first of two burns began immediately propelling the spacecraft higher towards it's intended orbit.
"It is an honor to work with Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company and all of our mission partners to launch this very important satellite,” ULA vice president Jim Sponnick stated on Tuesday evening. “The teams seamlessly integrated to ensure accurate delivery of the CLIO mission to orbit.”
CLIO, a golden modular satellite featuring twin solar panels, deployed from the Atlas' centaur upper stage nearly three hours after launch high above the eastern Indian Ocean. The spacecraft's successful 11:01 p.m. separation will be followed over the next few weeks by maneuvering CLIO to it's home in geostationary orbit.
The Lockheed Martin-built CLIO craft is expected to advance "global security" according the company's recent press release. "We're proud to support the CLIO system and looking forward to the launch," said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president with Lockheed's Space Systems.
The ULA company's next launch is an Atlas V on October 29, poised to deliver a Global Positioning System satellite for military and civilian use.
(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace, science and technology. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)

No comments:

copyright 1998 - 2010 Charles Atkeison, All rights reserved.