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Billion-Dollar US Missile Defense Satellite Successfully Launched

The satellite will be part of a system that detects missile launches worldwide through infrared sensor scanning.

After being postponed due to an abnormal system response during liquid oxygen chilldown operations, the Atlas V rocket was successfully launched, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) shared on Twitter. Perched on the top of the vehicle is a satellite that provides missile warning and defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence to the US Space Force.

The ULA Atlas V 421, carrying the fifth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO Flight 5) satellite, launched on Tuesday at 1:37 pm EDT (17:37 GMT) from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Lockheed-built billion-dollar satellite will be part of a system that detects missile launches worldwide through infrared sensor scanning.

“Thank you to our mission partners for the tremendous teamwork as we processed and launched this asset that provides powerful surveillance and critical capabilities to protect our warfighters,” ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs Gary Wentz said.

The 194-foot-tall (59m) rocket consists of a first stage and an upper stage. The first stage is fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1, or rocket-grade kerosene. The upper stage is powered by burning liquid oxygen and hydrogen. ULA CEO, Tory Bruno, posted Monday on Twitter that the delay was caused by a faulty temperature sensor in the liquid oxygen ground system, which caused the company to reschedule the launch.

This was the 87th launch of the Atlas V rocket, according to the ULA website. The company also reported that it has launched 144 times in total with 100 percent mission success. The next launch is scheduled for June 23 for the Space Test Program-3 mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

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