Wednesday, October 29, 2014

GPS 2F-8 Launch on Atlas 5 - Smooth Florida sailing in shadow of Orbital's Anatres explosion

United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched their Atlas 5 this afternoon with a GPS satellite as the payload (GPS 2F-8 or #GPSIIF8). This launch is a tribute to Florida’s amazing track record of safety and operations in lieu of Orbital’s catastrophic  rocket explosion last night in Virginia. The Orbital explosion of Antares may have caused significant damage to their only launchpad. The failure will require an accident investigation before they can start rebuilding, which may hurt their business significantly as commercial customers migrate towards Florida to launch on +SpaceX's Falcon 9 or overseas. SpaceX will be the only Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) provider for NASA to the International Space Station for the near-term, which will cause shifting in payloads manifested, and could trickle-down to payloads being delayed or costs going up as the supply capability reduces. As payloads jockey for position, the true economic impact to the space coast will occur in December during the Orion Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1). Hotels across the coast are already sold out (including our floor space) and Florida is expecting "Shuttle-like" crowds. This mission is a simple two-orbit profile, but is a critical step in returning launching human spaceflight from the USA.

Another successful launch from the space coast. My 28th in 25 months since moving here.
Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket exploded shortly after clearing the tower at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. It was en route to the International Space Station as a resupply mission loaded with consumables for the crew, science, and secondary payloads. Photo Credit: NASA HQ

The official stats:

Oct. 29 Atlas 5  •  GPS 2F-8
Launch time: 1721 GMT (1:21 p.m. EDT)
Launch site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launched the Air Force's eighth Block 2F navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System. The rocket flew in the 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. See our Mission Status Center. [Oct. 29]


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