The Air Force has once again delayed the launch of three space situational awareness satellites slated for July 24 until 6:55 p.m. tonight due to multiple weather concerns.
This is the second time the Air Force Space Command-4 launch, originally slated for July 23, has been delayed. The three satellites will fly on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. A ULA statement issued July 24 says there is a 40 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for tonight's launch.
AFSPC-4 is made up of two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites as well as an experimental SSA satellite that is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space (ANGELS).
As Inside the Air Force reports today:
Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, unveiled the GSSAP mission last winter but has remained relatively tight-lipped about the program's details. He told reporters at the Pentagon this week that part of the motivation for revealing the mission is that the satellites can't serve as a deterrent if no one knows what they are doing.
"It's like posting that sign in your front yard that says, 'I'm part of the neighborhood watch program,'" Shelton said during a July 22 briefing. "You hope that's a deterrent to potential thieves. Same thing in geosynchronous orbit. We hope that people are realizing that this is an electro-optical platform that will take very precise images, that has maneuvering capability to do rendezvous and proximity operations. We hope that people see that as a deterrent to putting things in space that might be nefarious."
Shelton noted, too, that GSSAP is not weaponized in any way. Its mission is focused on satellite imagery. Today, the Air Force tracks objects in GEO by detecting points of light. "We take a picture of the sky and dwell on that part of the sky; things that are moving are satellites, things that are stationary are stars," Shelton said.
-- Courtney Albon