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U.S. national security efforts strengthened by latest ULA launch

A successful launch from Alabama’s United Launch Alliance (ULA) has positioned the United States to strengthen its intelligence gathering efforts.

On Tuesday afternoon, ULA’s Atlas V rocket powered the Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS) Flight 5 mission for the U.S. Space Force.

Launched from Cape Canaveral, the Atlas V carried the fifth satellite in a constellation currently orbiting the planet. All five geostationary satellites were launched by Atlas V rockets built at ULA’s 1.6 million square foot facility in Decatur.

The SBIRS satellites, made by Lockheed Martin Corp., occupy a critical role in America’s intelligence gathering.

The American military’s early warning defense system runs through these satellites which continually scan Earth and utilize infrared technology to identify the hot plumes of gas that come from the end of missiles being launched. Once identified as threats, the system calculates the trajectory of the missile and warns the national command authority.

Early last year, when Iran fired missiles on U.S. military installations in Iraq, SBIRS was credited with saving the lives of American personnel because of its early warning capabilities.

RELATED: ‘Unmatched power’: Alabama-built ULA rocket successfully launches another national security mission

Gary Wentz, ULA’s vice president of Government and Commercial Programs, highlighted his company’s participation in this intelligence gathering function after the launch.

“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,” he said in a company release. “We are proud to work with the U.S. Space Force to continue to meet the national security needs of our country.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the RL10C-1-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage and the two AJ-60A solid rocket boosters.

This was the 87th launch of the Atlas V rocket and ULA’s 144th launch with 100% mission success.

RELATED: United Launch Alliance honors Decatur’s M&J with Small Business Excellence award

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

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