ULA Atlas V launch vehicle in “Lopsided” 511 configuration flies straight to put a pair of satellite GSSAP satellite snoopers into orbit

by | Jan 24, 2022 | Launches, Military space, Satellites, Seradata News

The Boeing/Lockheed Martin-owned launch provider, the United Launch Alliance (ULA), which mainly specialises in US military launches, successfully launched the first Atlas 511 vehicle from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, USA, at 1900 GMT on 21 January. The launch vehicle, an ATLAS V 511 (RL10C-1)/GEM-63, which was in a “lopsided” 511 configuration involving just a single GEM-63 strap-on solid rocket booster, was carrying the Northrop Grumman-built GSSAP 5 and GSSAP 6 satellites for the United States Space Force (USSF) to provide space situational awareness in a Geostationary orbit. The flight was given the codename USSF-8.

Atlas V 551 launches GSSAP 5 & 6. Courtesy: ULA

The launch was the first and probably the only Atlas V 511 flight. Despite the rocket’s naturally “asymmetric thrust”  – which is partly corrected by canting the nozzle and by using the thrust vector control using the main first stage’s RD-180 engine’s gimballing, the rocket flew straight upwards as expected before following its planned gravity turn trajectory.

GSSAP, which stands for Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, provides satellites which are designed to track other satellites in the geostationary arc imaging and even manoeuvre close to therm taking measurements of spacecraft residing there.  This is the third pair of GSSAP satellites launched after sets were launched in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

Artist’s impression of GSSAP satellites. Courtesy: USSF

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

Events on the ISS: Progress MS-20 cargo craft makes a raise then leaves International Space Station

At 1030 GMT on 3 February 2023, the cargo craft Progress MS-20 fired its engines for a 1.4m/s to boost Read more

Amazonas Nexus comsat is launched into a Super-synchronous transfer orbit by Falcon 9

After a few days of weather related delays, a SpaceX Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 rocket was successfully launched from Cape Read more

Proton-M launches Elektro-L N4 weather sat for Russia

A Proton-M/Block DM-03 launch vehicle was successfully launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan at 0912 GMT on 5 Read more

SSLV failure cause: Violent second stage separation triggered chain of events which prevented SSLV final stage burn to stable orbit

The failure investigation set up by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) into the launch failure of the maiden flight Read more

Starlink Group 5-3 is launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9

At 0758 GMT on 2 February 2023  a Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 successfully launched 53 Starlink Gen2 satellites (Group 5-3) Read more

South Korea confirms shift of two missions from Russian launchers; Kompsat 6 goes to Arianespace and CAS500-2 goes back to international market

The South Korean vice-minister for Science, Oh Tae-seog, announced on 1 February 2023 that they had selected an Arianespace Vega Read more

SpaceX launches another batch of Starlinks plus ION-SCV9 delivery spacecraft testing separation system

A Falcon 9v1.2FT Block 5 was launched from the Vandenberg Space Force base in California at 1615 GMT on 31 Read more

US sanctions SPACETY for supplying radar imagery to Russian Wagner Group in Ukraine

Just as Ukraine's military campaign has been supported by US commercial spacecraft operating firms — with SpaceX and Maxar providing Read more