The launch of United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket scheduled for later this week has been postponed to no earlier than July 9.
United Launch Alliance Encounters An Issue
On Sunday, June 23, the space company issued a statement to explain the delay. Atlas 5 is initially set to launch the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite on behalf of the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center from Cape Canaveral in Florida. However, a vehicle battery failure was uncovered during the final processing of the vehicle.
"Additional time is needed for the technical team to complete the evaluation of the issue and replace the battery," the statement posted on the company's website reads.
The payload, a satellite built by Lockheed Martin, will provide a "highly-secure, jam-proof" connection between the military and the president of the United States. Once launched, it will join the constellation of AEHF communication satellites already in the Earth's low-orbit. Atlas 5 previously delivered the first four AEHF satellites to low orbit in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2018.
The upcoming launch of the fifth AEHF satellite will mark the 80th mission of the Atlas 5 since its inaugural launch in 2012, the United Launch Alliance noted.
What To Expect From Atlas 5 Rocket Launch
Atlas 5 will lift off from the Space Launch Complex-41 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station next month.
Upon launch, SpaceFlight Now reported that the Atlas 5's Centaur upper stage will fire its RL10 engine three times. This will send the AEFH spacecraft into an elliptical "high-energy geotransfer orbit with an altitude ranging from 8,970 miles (14,435 kilometers) to 21,933 miles (35,298 kilometers) and an inclination of 9.95 degrees.
The AEFH spacecraft will be deployed into orbit 5 hours and 40 minutes after liftoff. The satellite has its own engine that will guide it toward where it needs to go and rejoin the rest of the constellation.
Next, UAL will prepare for the upcoming unmanned test flight of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner crew capsule. After several delays, the vehicle will be launched atop the Atlas 5 rocket, in September. Like SpaceX's Crew Dragon, which successfully completed its unmanned test flight earlier this year, the CST-100 Starliner will attempt to dock to the International Space Station.