An Atlas 5 rocket is poised to lift-off Friday from America’s Space Coast carrying a telecommunications satellite which will aid in disaster relief for Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation.
The Morelos-3 spacecraft, also known as MexSat-2, will begin a constellation network designed to provide advanced communications across Mexico, including remote regions. Built by Boeing, the spacecraft is expected to operate in geostationary orbit for 15 years.
MexSat-2 was intended to join MexSat-1 and 3 on orbit this weekend, however MexSat-1 was lost during its May launch aboard a Russian Proton rocket. A third MexSat is in its final stages for a future lift-off.
“The Mexsat program provides secure communications for Mexico’s national security needs in addition to providing communications to rural zones, as a complement to other existing networks,” ULA stated this week. “These satellite communication services include education and health programs, voice, data, video, and Internet services.”
Over the Atlantic waters, newly formed Hurricane Joaquin is not expected to pose a threat on launch day. The Air Force 45th Weather Squadron stated on Wednesday that overall weather is 70% favorable, and the team will be watching for low cloud cover and any effects from recent solar flares.
Lift-off from Cape Canaveral AFS of the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 is planned for 6:08 a.m. EDT — the opening of a 20 minute launch window — on October 2. The predawn launch is expected to provide another stunning post-launch illumination as the first rays of sunlight strike the rocket’s contrail.
Powered by a core main engine and two solid fueled rockets, the Atlas will dart out over the Atlantic Ocean beginning a southeasterly track. Two minutes later, the now empty twin boosters will separate and the main engine will burn for another three minutes as the rocket moves into sunrise.
Spacecraft separation from the Atlas’ Centaur upper stage is planned for nearly three hours after lift-off. Over the next several weeks, ULA confirms MexSat 2 will under go an on orbit check out prior to becoming operational.
This mission will mark ULA’s historic 100th launch since the company’s merger of Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s launch services in December 2006. The company’s first launch was aboard a Delta II rocket from California a few days later.