ULA successfully launches its second U.S. Space Force mission
Alabama’s United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched the USSF-7 mission Sunday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
This was ULA’s second mission for the U.S. Space Force. The Alabama rocket builder previously completed the newly-formed space agency’s first national security space mission in March.
Built at ULA’s 1.6 million square foot plant in Decatur, the Atlas V 501 rocket lifted off at 9:14 a.m. EST carrying a full payload, including Boeing’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6).
This is the sixth flight of the Orbital Test Vehicle, an autonomous space vehicle capable of spending long periods of time in space. ULA has carried four previous Orbital Test Vehicles to orbit.
“The success of this mission resulted from collaboration with our customer while working through challenging, and ever changing, health and safety conditions,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs in a statement from the company. “We were honored to partner with the U.S. Space Force to dedicate this mission to first responders, front-line workers, and those affected by COVID-19. It is truly a unique time in our history and I want to thank the entire team for their continued dedication and focus on mission success.”
In congratulating the launch participants, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett cited the mission as “[a] prime example of government-industry partnerships enhancing National Security Space.”
We have lift off 🚀Congrats to @SpaceForceDoD @AF_SMC @45thSpaceWing @ulalaunch on the successful launch of #USSF7 with the #AtlasV & #X37B @BoeingSpace! A prime example of government-industry partnerships enhancing National Security Space #spacereadiness pic.twitter.com/bp52x7uEMz
— Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett (@SecAFOfficial) May 17, 2020
Riding along with OTV-6 is FalconSat-8, a small satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy. The mission also carries NASA experiments, including one to determine the results of radiation and other space effects on various materials and another to assess space effects on seeds used to grow food.
This was ULA’s 139th mission, during which it has enjoyed a 100% success rate. It was the 84th for an Atlas V rocket and the seventh in the 501 configuration.
Watch the Atlas V at the moment of liftoff:
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia