New US Air Force Missile Defense Satellite Set for Launch on Thursday

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Centennial-based United Launch Alliance is scheduled to shoot a high priority global surveillance satellite into space, Thursday at 5:46 p.m. MT, from Cape Canaveral. Take off is scheduled for 7:46PM ET, though ULA has a 40-minute launch window in which the rocket can launch anytime before 8:26PM ET.

The U.S. Air Force will try again Friday to launch an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Brevard County.

United Launch Alliance is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Built by Lockheed Martin, the SBIRS GEO 3 satellite is deployed for the USA military to detect missile launches and provide other tactical support.

On Thursday, a launch was scrubbed less than four minutes from liftoff, as officials called a "Hold, hold, hold" when they noticed an aircraft in the area.

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Friday's launch is expected to be live-streamed on the ULA website and YouTube pages.

Teams last Thursday hoisted the roughly 10,000-pound spacecraft worth $1.2 billion atop the Atlas V at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41.

Two satellites like the one launching Friday night are already in space, part of what will be a six-satellite network.

"SBIRS, considered one of the nation's highest-priority space programs, is created to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st-century demands in four national security mission areas, including missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness", noted a ULA representative in the mission description.

Mission patch for SBIRS GEO Flight 3. Each satellite has a mass of about 4.5 tons (4.4 Imperial tons, 5.0 U.S. tons) and comes with a design which will last for 12 years.