Friday, February 24, 2012

200th Centaur Launch - Atlas 5 Rocket Launch Set For 2215UTC With New U.S. Navy Communications Satellite

Spaceflight Now is live at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Launch Site covering the MUOS-1 launch aboard the Atlas 5 vehicle which will happen at 5:15PM EST (2215UTC). Here is the direct LIVE-STREAM link.

Shortwave America will be live blogging this event since it is related to a rather important communications satellite system.  MUOS is the acronym for MOBILE USER OBJECTIVE SYSTEM.

What MUOS is and what it does, from the following source:

Mobile User Object System (MUOS) is a narrowband Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) system that supports a worldwide, multi-Service population of mobile and fixed-site terminal users in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band, providing increased communications capabilities to smaller terminals while still supporting interoperability to legacy terminals.

MUOS adapts a commercial third generation Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) cellular phone network architecture and combines it with geosynchronous satellites (in place of cell towers) to provide a new and more capable UHF MILSATCOM system. The constellation of four operational satellites and ground network control will provide greater than 10 times the system capacity of the current UHF Follow-On (UFO) constellation.

MUOS includes the satellite constellation, a ground control and network management system, and a new waveform for user terminals. The space portion is comprised of a constellation of four geosynchronous satellites, plus one on-orbit spare. The ground system includes the transport, network management, satellite control, and associated infrastructure to both fly the satellites and manage the user’s communications. MUOS and these newer terminals are designed to support users that require greater mobility, higher data rates, and improved operation availability. The new waveform is termed the MUOS Common Air Interface (CAI), a Software Communications Architecture compliant modulations technique for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) terminals. The MUOS CAI waveform will be available to the Services for porting to JTRS terminals in late 2008. The first MUOS satellite is scheduled to provide an On-Orbit Capability in March 2010. MUOS achieves Full Operational Capability in 2014.


2155 UTC: Live coverage of the 200th Centaur Atlas 5 Launch of the MUOS -1 was started by Spaceflight Now, explaining what this launch is about. 

2201 UTC: T-Minus 4 minutes and holding

2207 UTC: Final Flight Director's Poll happening, no operations limits expected during launch. 

2209 UTC: Countdown will start at 2211UTC and all systems are go, all communications team members are in agreement for launch.  

2212: Atlas tanks set to flight pressure

2213: Launch Sequencer started, securing Centaur LR2, Launch Enable

2214: Active Countdown

30 Seconds

20 Seconds

15 seconds











2215: Ignition

2215: LIFT OFF OF THE 200th Centaur Atlas 5 Mission! 

2216: All 5 solid rocket boosters jettisoned and second roll program started

2223 U.S. Navy says there will be 5 MUOS spacecraft in orbit and the 5th will be a spare. MUOS will be able to "see" 1/3 of the earth's surface and will us a mesh 15 meter antenna to communicate with personnel on the ground. 

2224: First MECO will take place in 3 minutes

2227: all tank pressures look good and battery levels are good

2227:28 - First MECO

2229: Captain Jeff Casala talks about what MUOS - 1 UHF narrowband means to his operation

2230: Commander Jeff King talks about MUOS-1 having to do with capacity, and other mobile communications needs MUOS - 1 serves. 

2232: Hawaii, Virginia, and other ground stations are critical to MUOS-1 ops. 

2233: MUOS serves to take the cell towers on the ground and move them to a geosynchornous orbit, therefore making the MUOS-1 THE cell tower. 

2235: We are now 20 minutes into the Atlas 5 MUOS-1 mission and looking at Centaur main engine re-start, going through all the pre-start proceudres..A2235 and 30 seconds the main engine started again. There will be three total burns. 

2237: announcement says that MUOS-1 will provide communications beyond the usual UHF line of sight and therefore provides 24 hours, 7 day a week mobile communications without needing to stop and set up an antenna pointed at the sat. 

2240: Announcer comms specialist Marty Melanowski says everything aboard the Atlas 5 look near nominal and less than 1 minute to the second MECO. 

2242: second MECO and fuel tank pressures are being vented down. 

2242:38 coverage of the 200th Centaur Atlas 5 Launch with the MUOS-1 comes to an end. 

Thanks for joining Shortwave America for the 200th launch of the Centaur Atlas 5 launch carrying MUOS-1 into orbit! EXTRA coverage is coming below this ASAP: This launch was brought to us by the work, and support of The United Launch Alliance.

@insidenasa says "Bravo Zulu to the US Air Force, US Coast Guard and ULA for supporting an on time launch of the Atlas V with #MUOS from CCAFS SLC-41 today."

The MUOS-1 Launch had to be scrubbed two times prior to today's launch. Here is the second scrub video:

Here is the 200th Atlas launch timeline for the MUOS-1 Mission

MUOS-1 Centaur Atlas 5 - 200th Launch

Here are three photos from Alan Stern in Florida who runs the popular CIVILAIRCOMMS and SPACECOASTCOMMS discussion groups: Thanks for allowing Shortwave America to link to these photos, Al!

Atlas MUOS Launch 1

Atlas MUOS Launch 2

Atlas MUOS Launch 3

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