Sunday, September 23 , 2018, 2:05 am | Fair 60º

 
 
 
 

Local News

WorldView-4 Satellite Sits Atop Atlas 5 Rocket For Launch From Vandenberg AFB

While United Launch Alliance mission remains on track, SpaceX confirms return-to-flight won't happen before November

Built by Lockheed Martin, DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 satellite is enclosed earlier this month in the 4-meter fairing that was placed atop an Atlas 5 rocket in preparation for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday morning. Click to view larger
Built by Lockheed Martin, DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 satellite is enclosed earlier this month in the 4-meter fairing that was placed atop an Atlas 5 rocket in preparation for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday morning. (Lockheed Martin/United Launch Alliance photo)

An Earth-imaging satellite boasting a new high-resolution camera to snap detailed pictures from space sits atop an Atlas 5 rocket awaiting blastoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday morning.

The window for the 189-foot-tall rocket’s departure from Space Launch Complex-3 East on South Base opens at 11:30 a.m. and closes at 11:44 a.m.

The United Launch Alliance-built rocket will carry the WorldView-4 satellite into space, more than doubling the capacity of the DigitalGlobe fleet.

WorldView-4, built by Lockheed Martin for DigitalGlobe, will capture detailed images for commercial, government and international customers.

Earlier this month, crews at Vandenberg tucked the 5,700-pound-class satellite into the rocket’s nose cone prior to the trip to the launch pad, where it was placed atop the Atlas.

"Encapsulation is the last time people will ever lay eyes on this satellite before it launches to space," said Steve Skladanek, president of Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services. "Our Atlas rocket is ready to provide WorldView-4 a smooth ride and precise delivery into orbit.”

WorldView-4 helps the company expand a 16-year library of time-lapse, high-resolution imagery. 

While in space, WorldView-4 will orbit Earth every 90 minutes, traveling 17,000 mph and capturing as much as 262,550 square miles of the Earth's surface daily or 18 terabytes – the equivalent of the land area of Texas.

WorldView-4's sibling, WorldView-3, also hitched a ride aboard an Atlas rocket to reach orbit in 2014. 

Vandenberg officials said community members can view the launch from the Hawk’s Nest, the former mobile home park site on Highway 1, a half mile south of Vandenberg’s main gate. 

Other popular viewing spots for South Base launches include the peak of Harris Grade Road, near the intersection of Moonglow and Stardust roads, and on Ocean Avenue west of Lompoc.

The Atlas 5 launch facility is visible on the horizon looking south of Ocean Avenue to the white gantry. 

"The combined 30th Space Wing and United Launch Alliance team has spent months preparing to ensure this launch is both safe and successful. We have a very strong partnership with ULA, and we're proud to have teamed with them on this fantastic mission," said Col. Chris Moss, 30th Space Wing commander and launch decision authority.

For safety reasons, Jalama Beach County Park campers and visitor will be evacuated from 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Friday. 

Surf and Ocean beaches also are expected to be closed due to the launch.

The Atlas 5 blastoff will mark the second launch from Vandenberg this month, following a Minuteman 3 missile test on Labor Day.

Meanwhile, another rocket launch once planned for September will not occur this month.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for Space Exploration Technologies confirmed that the next Falcon rocket launch likely won’t occur until November, but the company has not decided whether that return-to-flight mission will be from Vandenberg or Florida.

SpaceX was rocked by a catastrophic explosion Sept. 1 while the rocket sat on the launch in pad in preparation for a static fire test of its engine at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida.

The investigation into the mishap continues.

“Still working on the Falcon fireball investigation. Turning out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years,” company founder Elon Musk said on Twitter Sept. 9.

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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >