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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 7:45 pm | Fair 59º

 
 
 
 

Atlas V Rocket Blasts Off At Last from Vandenberg Air Force Base

United Launch Alliance booster carried WorldView-4 satellite, CubeSats micro satellites to space after weeks of delay following wildland fire, technical issues

Spectators gather in Vandenberg Village to watch the Atlas V rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday morning. Click to view larger
Spectators gather in Vandenberg Village to watch the Atlas V rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday morning. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at 10:30 a.m. Click to view larger
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at 10:30 a.m. (Photo courtesy United Launch Alliance and Lockheed Martin)

An Atlas V rocket and its commercial satellite at last thundered into the sky Friday morning from south Vandenberg Air Force Base following weeks of delays due to an on-base wildland fire and technical troubles.

The United Launch Alliance rocket occurred at 10:30 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-3.

"This flawless launch was the result of extraordinary teamwork between the 30th Space Wing and our United Launch Alliance partner following the extensive fires on Vandenberg in September," said Col Chris Moss, 30th Space Wing commander at Vanenberg. "What this team has accomplished in such a short time is absolutely amazing. Hundreds of people worked tirelessly over the past weeks to make this happen."

Dozens of adults, children and dogs who gathered to watch the launch from a vantage point in Vandenberg Village and elsewhere around the Lompoc Valley.

"It's pretty impressive," said Josh Frink who recently moved to Santa Barbara County from Colorado and was happy the delays meant he could see the blastoff.

"It was kind of emotional to see the connection to Earth and outer space," added Gennai Sawvel.

Atlas carried WorldView-4, a commercial Earth-imaging satellite about the size of a Ford F-150 truck built by Lockheed Martin for DigitalGlobe.

Also hitching a ride were an assortment of CubeSats, or micro satellites, designed to test assorted technologies. 

With launch day falling on Veterans Day holiday, thousands of people gathered at viewing sites around the Lompoc Valley to catch a glimpse of the rocket in flight.

Ground controllers confirmed the WorldView-4 satellite reached its intended orbit. Several CubeSats also were deployed after the launch.

WorldView-4’s launch comes two years after a sibling satellite arrived in space and will double the capacity of high-resolution imagery, company officials said.

“Since the launch of WorldView-3 just two years ago much has evolved in the marketplace,” said Rob Mitrevski, Harris Corporation vice president and general manager. “The world’s thirst for imagery continues to increase particularly if that imagery can be put in the context of solving hard problems and providing actionable intelligence.”

Customers of the new satellite's data reportedly include commercial, government and international customers with imagery from taken from some 383 miles high.

"WorldView-4 dramatically extends DigitalGlobe's position as the industry leader in earth imagery, and insight into our changing planet," said Jeffrey R. Tarr, chief executive officer of DigitalGlobe. 

The data can help provide information about natural disasters, human rights abuses and population migrations, Mitrevski said. 

The spacecraft also boasts rapid collection capability.

“WorldView-4 can capture a continuous image spanning 360 kilometers — about the distance from London to Paris — in about 45 seconds. That’s useful when customers need to make quick, mission critical decisions,” Mitrevski said.

The satellite can see items as big as 30 centimeters, or nearly 12 inches, from its place in space.

“It’s just an astonishing capability,” said Carl Marchetto, vice president and general manager, of Lockheed Martin Commercial Space.

A collection of tiny satellites made up the mission's secondary payload. Sponsored by the National Reconnaissance Office, the seven CubeSats known collectedly as Enterprise will demonstrate assorted unclassified technology.

Friday's Atlas blastoff marked ULA’s ninth launch in 2016 and the 112th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006, ULA representatives said.

The firm has another Atlas V rocket launch scheduled for Nov. 19 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

An Atlas V rocket blasts off Friday morning after weeks of delays to carry a WorldView-4 satellite into orbit. Click to view larger
An Atlas V rocket blasts off Friday morning after weeks of delays to carry a WorldView-4 satellite into orbit. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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