MUOS-5 and Atlas V within hours !

Today we are waiting for MUOS-5 mission. Atlas V combined with Centaur upper stage will deliver satellite created for US Navy starting from Cape Canaveral SLC-41 at 14:30 GMT.

MUOS-5 is last new generation communication satellite created by Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics for US. Constellation of five satellites (4 operating and one backup) will provide 10 times more throughput without being affected by weather conditions or environment. System was contracted in 2004 (contract was worth $7.7 billion including ground infrastructure) to replace present UFO (UHF Follow-On) communication system. MUOS is operating on ultra-high frequency and works in similar way like civilian mobile phones. It offers voice communication along with data transfer and multimedia services like transmitting video in real time. MUOS utilizes standard 3G WCDMA mobile phone signal which is next converted to UHF SATCOM and received by satellite, which is functioning like Base Transceiver Station in ordinary cell phone network. Using UHF helps in avoiding jamming and negative affect of weather or terrain.

MUOS-5 satellite weight is 6740 kg; it is powered with two deployable solar arrays and onboard batteries. Apogee Kick Motor is Japanese IHI BT-4 bi-fueled (N2H4/MON-3) thruster with 450 N of thrust. Satellite launched today will serve as backup for 4 spacecrafts already remaining on orbit. It was not unveiled much more about technical specification of satellite, but it will operate on UHF (uplink) and Ka band (downlink) with maximum transfer speed at 384kbps. Satellite is based on A2100 bus and will remain on GEO with operational life at 15 years. Designated orbit for today launch is elliptical shaped with perigee at 3841 km and apogee at 35706 km and an inclination of 19.1°.

United Launch Alliance is still traditional launch service provider for military satellites. ULA will utilize during this mission their proven and reliable Atlas V in 551 configuration. It means that payload will be covered with fairing long for five meters, rocket will be equipped with five boosters and one engine in Centaur upper stage will be utilized. In this configuration rocket is able to deliver to GTO 8900 kg of payload. Rocket is long for over 62 m with 3.81 m in diameter and mass at 334500 kg. It will be equipped in five SRB solid fueled boosters (HTPB) by Aerojet Rocketdyne, each long for 17 m and providing 1688.4 kN of thrust. First stage is powered with Energomash RD-180 liquid fueled (RP-1/LOX) engine with thrust at 3827 kN. Second stage, Centaur, is equipped with single RL-10C engine fueled with LH2/LOX and providing 99 kN of thrust.

For the moment weather conditions are predicted as 80% for go, launch is set for 14:30 GMT.