Atlas 5 on schedule for Thursday liftoff

posted by Jim Banke - 

Atlas 5, Oct. 5, 4:07 AM

UPDATE as of October 2 at 9 p.m.: United Launch Alliance today completed their flight readiness review for Thursday morning's planned liftoff of the an Atlas 5 and announced the target launch time will be 4:07 a.m. EDT.

The weather forecast from the 45th Space Wing predicts a 60 percent chance of acceptable conditions during the launch window.

Meanwhile, SpaceX completed a static test firing of its Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A today. The standard test reportedly went well and clears the way for Saturday morning's launch at 6:53 p.m. EDT.

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As is typical for the launch calendar here on the Space Coast, wait a day and it all changes.

United Launch Alliance has firmed up its plans for its next mission and the result is that an Atlas 5 rocket is now expected to be the next launch from the Cape.

Flying from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's pad 41, the Atlas 5 is to carry a classified payload into orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office early Thursday morning, October 5. The launch window extends from 3:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. EDT.

Two days later, on Saturday, October 7, SpaceX is targeting to fly its Faclon 9 from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A. The launch window extends from 6:55 p.m. to 8:53 p.m. EDT.

Riding atop the launch vehicle will be a communications satellite that will provide services for two different companies, namely SES and EchoStar.

It's not clear at the moment, at least officially, if the first stage of the Falcon 9 will attempt a landing on a SpaceX barge at sea. The first stage was previously flown and recovered.

-- Jim Banke

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