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United Launch Alliance Atlas V to Launch Missile Warning Satellite for the U.S. Space Force

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 1, 2022
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United Launch Alliance Atlas V to Launch Missile Warning Satellite for the U.S. Space Force

What: A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch the Space Based Infrared System-6 (SBIRS GEO 6) mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command. The SBIRS GEO 6 mission features the sixth and final SBIRS missile detection and early warning satellite for the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command.

Where: Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

When: Launch is planned for Aug. 4, 2022 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Launch is planned for 6:29 a.m. EDT.

Mission details:

  • Atlas V will deliver the spacecraft directly to customized geosynchronous transfer orbit approximately 22,000 miles (36,000 km) above the equator approximately 3 hours after liftoff.
  • Mission unique: SBIRS GEO 6 is the sixth and final satellite in the SBIRS constellation, a system of critical missile defense satellites launched exclusively into orbit on the Atlas V.
  • SBIRS GEO 6 will be ULA’s 95th National Security Space mission.
  • SBIRS GEO 6 is the 95th Atlas V launch, the 79th Atlas V launch from SLC-41 and the 152nd ULA mission.

Launch Vehicle details:

  • The mission will launch on an Atlas V 421 configuration rocket that stands 194 ft.
    (59.1 m) tall.
  • At liftoff, the thrust will be 1.6 million pounds of thrust (7.1 mega-Newtons) and the launch vehicle will weigh 969,500 pounds (439,758 kg).
  • The spacecraft is encapsulated in the 4-meter diameter Extra Extended Payload Fairing (XEPF). The XEPF is a bisector (two-piece shell) fairing consisting of aluminum skin/stringer construction with vertical split-line longerons.
  • SBIRS GEO 6 includes two Graphite Epoxy Motors GEM 63, provided by Northrop Grumman. – The GEM63’s measure 63 inches in diameter and 66 feet in length. The GEMS will be ignited at the launch pad and burn for 94 seconds, consuming 97,500 pounds (44,225.2 kg of propellant to produce 371,550 pounds (1.6 mega-Newtons) of max thrust to augment the 860,200 pounds (3.83 mega-Newtons) of thrust produced by the RD-180 main engine to power the Atlas V rocket skyward.
  • The Atlas booster for this mission is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine.
  • Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the RL10C-1-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage.

How to stay informed:

  • Photos from launch processing can be found on our Flickr page. These photos can be used with credit to United Launch Alliance
  • The live launch broadcast begins at 6:08 a.m. EDT at
  • The live launch blog start at 11:00 p.m. EDT on August 3.
  • Join the conversation: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; hashtags #AtlasV #SBIRSGEO6

About ULA:

Leveraging a legacy of 100 percent mission success launching over 150 missions to explore, protect and enhance our world, ULA is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider with world-leading reliability, schedule confidence, and mission optimization. We deliver value unmatched by any launch services company in the industry, a tireless drive to improve, and commitment to the extraordinary.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321).

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.