ULA launches Atlas 5 asymmetric ‘Super Slider’ missile

An Atlas V 511 rocket at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

An Atlas V 511 rocket at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Photo: ULA

On Friday afternoon, the United Launch Alliance will attempt to launch a unique Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. You can watch the event live here.

Today’s launch window will open at 2:00 PM EST (11:00 AM PT), with forecasters forecasting 80% good weather in Cape Canaveral.

The ULA Atlas V 511 missile, with a single-sided ultra-wide-side rocket mount, will take off from Space Launch Complex-41. The United Launch Alliance will use this unique configuration to launch two US Space Force satellites, on a mission known as USSF-8. You can stream the ULA webcast here, with coverage starting at 1:30 PM EST (10:30 AM PT):

The two identical satellites, GSSAP-5 and GSSAP-6, are the fifth and six satellites of the Space Force’s Situational Awareness Program. The satellites will go directly to geosynchronous orbit, about 22,300 miles (36,000 km) above the equator, where they will provide “neighborhood monitoring services” for the purpose of “improving flight safety for all space-faring nations operating in that orbit,” according to the ULA. Mission overview. Data from the GSSAP satellite network will allow for better orbital predictions, so that satellite controllers can be alerted to potential collisions with space junk or other satellites. The previous four GSSAP satellites were delivered in pairs on Delta 4 missiles in 2014 and 2016.


A view of the rocket with the only solid-fuel booster.

A view of the rocket with the only solid-fuel booster.
Photo: ULA

ULA says this will be the first and only flight of the Atlas V 511 configuration, and it remains the only unmanned configuration in the Atlas family of rockets. Since 2002, the Atlas V has flown in 10 different configurations, and this is the eleventh. Today’s launch will be the third direct mission to GEO from ULA, and the previous two were avspc -11 in 2018 and STP-3 in 2021.

The “511” configuration refers to the aerodynamic, lateral booster and second stage booster. “5” represents the width of the payload width, which is 5 meters, or 17 feet, across. The first “1” is the number of solid rocket boosters installed on the side, and The second “1” indicates the number of engines in the second stage of the Centaur booster. ULA has previously flown an Atlas V 411 rocket, a configuration that you should be able to figure out for yourself given my clear and concise explanation.

A single solid-fuel booster gives the rocket a distinctly asymmetric appearance, but will provide the extra power needed on takeoff: 371,500 pounds of thrust. The main booster powered by kerosene It will provide 860,200 pounds of thrust, for a total of 1.23 million pounds of thrust on takeoff. The Atlas V 511 is capable of delivering up to 11,570 pounds (5,250 kg) of payload into a geostationary elliptical orbit, according to to SpaceFlightNow.

Atlas V 511, in addition to the exterior, will also exert asymmetric thrust, as AmericaSpace explains in a Mail Since last year:

Like its smaller cousin, the Atlas V 411 – which carries a slightly smaller, 13 ft (4 m) payload cruiser, which was recently in service in February 2020 for the launch of the Solar Orbiter – the 511 will offer an “unusual side-flying” perspective because it Slides ‘up from the board.

The guidance actuators of the Atlas V’s RD-180 engine will counteract asymmetric thrust from a single steel and ensure that the missile flies straight and correctly, but it will undoubtedly provide a bewildering sight for viewers. and as [ULA CEO Tory] Previously, Bruno noted, all Atlas Vs have their own nicknames. With the 411 already being dubbed the “Slider,” the 511’s biggest nickname is the “Super Slider.”

The entire task will take just under eight minutes to complete. Key moments will include disposal of the solid booster missile in 2 minutes, and disposal of the payload in 3:30 Mark, the Atlas/Centaur separated in 4:27, and the Centaur’s first prime mover started 10 seconds later. The two moons will separate at the signs 6:35 and 6:45. Fingers are crossed so that the Super Slider works as expected.

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