Defense

June 21, 2012

Air Force officials announce milestone Atlas V launch

by Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., June 20, 2012, with a national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. This is the 61st launch for ULA and marks the 50th successful launch of an Atlas V and Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle.

As part of the Defense Department’s ongoing efforts to maintain assured, affordable access to space through 2030, the Atlas V rocket successfully lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral on June 20, Air Force officials said.

“This is an exciting time for the U.S. space launch community, said Scott Correll, the program’s executive officer. “From today’s successful launch of the 50th Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle to the recent success of Space X’s support to NASA with their Falcon 9, it’s clear the commercial space transportation industry is making notable strides.”

The EELV program replaced the existing fleet of launch systems with two families of launch vehicles – the Boeing Delta IV and Lockheed Martin Atlas V – built and operated by the DOD’s prime contractor, United Launch Alliance, Correll said.

An official from the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., explained that the Atlas V is a critical part of a spectrum of government missions.

“Atlas V launches space-based infrared systems, global positioning systems, the defense meteorological satellite program and the advanced extremely high frequency system satellites,” said Col. Bob Hodgkiss, the director of the launch systems directorate. “I’m pleased to report that this year we have also already launched the wideband global sat-com IV aboard a Delta IV, and the Navy’s mobile user objective system satellite 1 aboard Atlas V.”

Because of considerable program costs, which can run as high as several billion dollars per launch, quality assurance and the development of a competitive market are paramount, Air Force officials said.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., June 20, 2012. Designated NROL-38, the mission is in support of national defense.

“Since the Air Force must by law self-indemnify, we do a very rigorous evaluation of the physical, electrical and radio frequency interfaces between the rocket, the satellite and the ground systems,” Hodgkiss said of the process to determine flight readiness. “My team is the government’s insurance policy, so we need to be sure we have the highest probability of success in one of the riskiest activities the Air Force does.”

On the business side of the program, Hodgkiss said, the program’s primary users, the Air Force, NASA and the National Reconnaissance Office, are developing strategies to infuse competition into space launch as a cost reduction measure.

“We are balancing the commitment we will make to ULA with the potential to reintroduce competition to the program when one or more commercial launch companies have demonstrated to the Air Force they are reliable launch providers,” the colonel said.

Correll asserts that certifying new entrants will potentially enable competition, thereby lowering costs and creating innovation in government payloads such as communications, navigation, weather satellites, and science and national security missions.

“The framework offers multiple paths to on-ramp potential new entrants and part of this strategy requires an entrant to demonstrate at least one launch of a vehicle configured as an EELV-class national security space launch,” he said.

ULA’s next launch and the NRO’s next mission, the Delta IV NROL-15, is scheduled for June 28.

“Our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and intelligence community are dependent upon the war fighting capabilities we enable,” Correll said. “Our priority and focus remain mission success first while controlling costs in this constrained fiduciary environment.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 25, 2014

News: VA reform bills stalled by partisan bickering - Plans for a comprehensive Veterans Affairs Department reform bill that appeared all but finished a month ago devolved into partisan bickering and funding fights July 24, casting doubt on the future of a deal.   Business: Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed announce bids on Danish fighter competition; Saab withdraws -...
 
 

News Briefs July 25, 2014

Marines investigate corporal who vanished in Iraq U.S. Marine Corp officers are launching a formal investigation into whether a Lebanese-American Marine deserted his unit in Iraq or later after returning to the United States. A spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune said July 24 that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is being...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OíShea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 

 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
lm-kmax

Lockheed Martin’s unmanned cargo helicopter team returns from deployment

After lifting more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo and conducting thousands of delivery missions for the U.S. Marine Corps, the Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace Corporation K-MAX cargo unmanned aircraft system has returned ...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>