Launch News Delta IV launch with GSSAP-1/2 & ANGELS (AFSPC-4), July 28, 2014

Cosmic Penguin

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"Knock Knock!"

"Who's there?"

"AFSPC-4"

"AFS....who?"

"Ah sorry, this is the United States Air Force. I'm their guard of the neighborhoods of the geosynchronous orbit belt of Terra Firma. ;)"

"Damn! The CIA is coming! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO..........."

:rofl:

...well while the conversation above between 2 satellites in geosynchronous orbit is purely imaginary, the United States Air Force is indeed sending "guardian satellites", a.k.a. "satellite inspectors", into the geosynchronous orbit belt today!

So a little historical background: several years ago on the EELV launch manifest a Delta IV launch appears with the payload named AFSPC-4 (Air Force Space Command launch mission 4). The true identity of the payload remains illusive to observers for years, until this February.

This is when the USAF reveals that they are ready to deploy multiple space surveillance spacecraft into the crowded GEO belt to monitor the satellite traffic there. Known as the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP), these satellites would be tasked with directly tracking and identifying objects floating in high altitude Earth orbits, not only for avoiding satellites to crash into each other (remember that satellite operators sometimes do ask NORAD where their satellites went when they lost contact with them, and not just at Christmas!), but of course to detect foreign objects that could be (ahem) malign in usage against US government assets in high Earth orbits. Quoting AFSPC commander Gen. William Shelton's words:

"GSSAP will produce a significant improvement in space object surveillance, not only for better collision avoidance but also for detecting threats,"

"GSSAP will bolster our ability to discern when adversaries attempt to avoid detection and to discover capabilities they may have which might be harmful to our critical assets at these higher altitudes."

"As other nations show their commitment in investing in systems capable of harming our satellites, we are committed to investing in space surveillance assets like GSSAP that will directly enable safe operations, protect our spacecraft, and indirectly enable a range of decisive responses that will enable counterspace threats ineffective," Shelton said.

While space based artificial satellite and objects tracking and inspector satellites are not new - the National Reconnaissance Office has a secret inspector satellite code-named "Prowler" that has been drifting along the geostationary belt since hitch-hiking on Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1990 (on mission STS-38), DARPA has launched twin inspector satellites named MiTEx in 2006 and was useful in photographing GEO satellites (notably the failed missile warning satellite DSP-23 in 2009, 2 years after launch), and the USAF's Space Based Space Surveillance satellite (SBSS) has been proved to be effective in tracking satellites from a low Earth orbit, GSSAP marks the first operational system of satellite tracking systems working from a high Earth orbit.

Today's launch marks the deployment of the first two satellites of GSSAP (at least two more will be launched on an Atlas V in 2016). Built by Orbital Sciences, these small spacecraft (probably a couple hundred kilograms each) carries electric-optical sensors that tracks quickly moving objects around the Earth and may also work to rendezvous with targets at close range.

Also on board is the Air Force Research Laboratory's Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space (ANGELS) micro-satellite. This 70 kg spacecraft will demonstrate autopilot space situational awareness in GEO by using GPS signals to fly itself around the spent Delta IV 2nd stage, as well as testing out sensors that can determine its position with respect to other objects nearby.

The mysterious 3-satellite group is scheduled to be lifted to space by the 27th Delta IV rocket from the Cape today at 7:03 pm EDT (23:03 UTC). While the rocket's track is redacted after fairing separation, it is anticipated that the Delta IV 2nd stage will make at least 3 burns over at least 6.5 hours to put them directly into geostationary orbit. Well, that is if the weather is co-operating.....(only 30% GO predicted for today)

So don't believe you can hide in space even if you can shoot yourself up - for the Big Brother now reaches a new height today! :uhh:

|
Launch date:​
| July 28, 2014
Launch time:​
| 22:43 UTC / 6:43 p.m. EDT / 3:43 p.m. PDT
Launch site:​
| SLC-37B, Cape Canaveral AFB, Florida

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[highlight]L[eventtimer]2014-7-28 22:43:00;%c%%ddd%/%hh%:%mm%:%ss%[/eventtimer][/highlight]​
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This is the 27th operational flight of the Delta IV rocket and the 12th to fly in the M+(4,2) configuration with 2 solid rocket boosters and the 4 meter diameter fairing & upper stage.

Viewing the Launch Live:
Mission Description:
The AFSPC-4 mission will deliver two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites to near-geosyn¬chronous orbit and will also carry an Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space (ANGELS) satellite.

The twin GSSAP spacecraft will support U.S. Strategic Command space surveillance operations as a dedicated Space Surveillance Network (SSN) sensor. The GSSAP will also support Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC SPACE) tasking to collect space situ¬ational awareness data, allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of man-made orbiting objects.

The ANGELS satellite is managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate. As part of AFRL’s research in advanced Space Situational Awareness (SSA), ANGELS examines techniques for providing a clearer picture of the environment surrounding our nation’s vital space assets.​

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Mission Insignia
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Launch Vehicle:

The Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) consists of a single Delta IV common booster core (CBC), the Delta cryogenic second stage (DCSS), and two solid rocket motors (SRM). The CBC and the DCSS are connected by a composite cylindrical interstage adapter (ISA). The SRMs, 5 ft in diameter and 53 ft long and constructed of a graphite-epoxy composite, are connected to the booster by two ball-and-socket joints and structural thrusters.

The Delta IV booster tanks are structurally rigid and constructed of isogrid aluminum barrels, spun-formed aluminum domes, machined aluminum tank skirts, and a composite center-body. Delta IV booster propulsion is provided by the RS-68 engine system. The RS-68 burns cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and delivers 663,000 lb of thrust at sea level. The booster’s cryogenic tanks are insulated with a combination of spray-on and bond-on insulation and helium-purged insulation blankets.

The Delta IV booster is controlled by the DCSS avionics system, which provides guidance, flight control, and vehicle sequencing functions during CBC and DCSS phases of flight. The boost phase of flight ends 6 seconds after main engine cutoff (MECO), when the separation charge in the interstage adapter is fired and 16 pneumatic actuators push the spent Delta IV CBC stage and the DCSS apart.

The DCSS stage propellant tanks are structurally rigid and constructed of isogrid aluminum ring forgings, spun-formed aluminum domes, machined aluminum tank skirts and a composite inter-tank truss. The DCSS is also a cryogenic liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen-fueled vehicle. It uses a single RL10B-2 engine that produces 24,750 lb of thrust. Like the CBC, the DCSS cryogenic tanks are insulated with a combination of spray-on and bond-on insulation, and helium-purged insulation blankets. An equipment shelf attached to the aft dome of the DCSS liquid oxygen tank provides the structural mountings for vehicle electronics. The structural and electronic interfaces with the satellite are provided via the payload attach fitting (PAF). The GPS missions use a 4-m diameter payload fairing (PLF). The PLF is a composite bisector (two-piece shell) fairing. The vehicle’s height, with the 38.5-ft tall PLF, is approximately 206 ft.



Launch Sequence:

div_afspc-4_mob-page-001.jpg


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Launch Updates:
Weather forecast for Titusville, Florida on July 28, 2014 (7 p.m.)

Mix of sun and clouds. Low 25C.

Time|Temps|Dew Point|Relative Humidity|Precip|Snow|Cloud cover|Pressure|Wind|Weather
7 PM|30°C|23°C|65%|14%|0%|59%|1014 hPa|19 km/h WSW|
partlycloudy.svg
Partly Cloudy
 
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Cosmic Penguin

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Well scrubbed for the day it seems :shrug:

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (July 23, 2014) – The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV carrying the AFSPC-4 mission was scrubbed today due to an issue with the ground support equipment environmental control system that supports the launch vehicle.

The launch is rescheduled for Thursday, July 24 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, pending resolution of the ground environmental control system item. The launch time is 6:59 p.m. EDT at the opening of a 65-minute window. The forecast for July 24 shows a 30 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch tomorrow.
 

boogabooga

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Because it's too good to be true to have two launches within 90 minutes.
 

Cosmic Penguin

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Update:

The issue with the ground support equipment environmental control system has been fixed and retested and we are moving toward a launch tonight. The AFSPC-4 mission is set to lift off on a ULA Delta IV rocket on Thursday, July 24 at 6:59 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Today’s forecast shows a 30 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.
 

Cosmic Penguin

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For tomorrow.....

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (July 24, 2014) – The launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV carrying the AFSPC-4 mission was scrubbed today due to a violation of multiple weather criteria.

The launch is rescheduled for Friday, July 25 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch time is 6:55 p.m. EDT at the opening of a 65-minute window. The forecast for July 25 shows a 40 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for the launch tomorrow.

(I will be out for a trip starting tomorrow and will be at the airport at launch time. :shifty:)
 

GLS

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Another scrub do to weather at T-4 minutes... violated 6 rules today. :uhh:
24 hour recycle in work.
 

Kyle

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Six violations at once. If I didn't know Florida launches better, I'd say that would have to be some sort of record.
 

Cosmic Penguin

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I see that the weather didn't really change after I traveled to Tokyo yesterday.... :dry:
 

Cosmic Penguin

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Thunderstorms still near, but expect to clear by 7:30 pm Eastern (23:30 UTC).
 

MaverickSawyer

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SCRUB. Retargeted for July 28, with the launch window of 65 minutes opening at 6:43 PM EDT.
 

Cosmic Penguin

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Well, today's probably the best chance this can go up in days, or else other satellites might get annoyed (in fact the next GPS sat is already delayed by this and will go up one day late)! "Only" 40% chance of violations! ;)
 

Cosmic Penguin

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...and GONE! :)

The launch phase may be at least 5.5 hours long due to direct geosynchronous orbit injection.
 
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