An Atlas 5 rocket is poised to launch a huge military communications satellite on Friday unless Florida's summertime weather proves to dampen it's chances.
Built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, MUOS 2 or the Mobile User Objective System satellite is the second of a planned network of five to orbit high in geostationary orbit.Placed high a top the 106-foot tall white and bronze rocket is a U.S. Navy high frequency communications satellite designed to cover a third of the globe to provide high speed data and voice to troops and sailors.
Powered by five solid rocket boosters and a center main engine, the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V 551 will need 2.6 million pounds of thrust to push the massive 7.4 ton satellite into space.
ULA Vice President Jim Sponnick statedthat this will be the heaviest payload ever to launch in the history of the Atlas program.
Nearly three hours following launch, the spacecraft will separate from the Atlas' upper stage high over an area northwest of Australia to begin a ten year life 22,300 miles high.
Once on orbit, a 14 meter wide golden dish antenna will deploy out to support a vast wealth of communications and giving the U.S. military ten times the quality of existing communications satellites.
If weather delay's Friday's launch attempt, Saturday's forecast improves to a favorable 70% "go".