A missile-warning satellite and one more spacecraft are on their way toward orbit to assist the U.S. military get better at tracking fast-moving dangers.
The two U.S. military surveillance satellites launched on top of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, which was lifted off a pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:15 p.m. EDT on a mission for the U.S. Space Force called USSF-12.
The Atlas V’s first and second phases separated four and a half minutes after the launch, and it was instantly followed by a more than the six-minute burn of the Centaur Upper-stage engine. After two more Centaur burns, the two satellites were prepared to be deployed into geosynchronous orbit, approximately 22,300 miles above Earth. “That happened as planned about six hours after liftoff,” ULA representatives announced on Twitter early Saturday morning.
One of the two spacecraft, known as the Wide Field of View (WFOV) satellite, is the Space Force Space System Command’s (SSC) testing platform for a modern generation of missile-surveillance technology. The other is a satellite bus holding several technology demonstrations for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). It is named USSF-12 Ring.
“The USSF-12 Ring was created by Northrop Grumman based on the aerospace company’s ESPAStar product line. This ring is being flown for the DoD and features six unique payload ports as well as an independent propulsion system, “Matt Verock, vice president of space security for Northrop Grumman, announced during the call.