Edinburgh, 7 December 2021. – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch the U.S. military Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission later today after a two-day delay, ULA announced. The launch scheduled for Sunday had to be postponed after discovering a leak in the ground system storing rocket propellant.
The team repaired the storage system the same day. However, additional time was required to verify the sample integrity of the fuel prior to tanking operations, ULA said. STP-3 will deploy two satellites carrying technology-demonstrating payloads sponsored by the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program.
STPSat-6, the larger of the two satellites, carries a NASA laser-communication system. It also has a National Nuclear Security Administration payload on board. This is designed to detect nuclear bomb detonations from space. The mission will also launch space weather and situational awareness payloads.
Both the primary spacecraft, STPSat-6 and the rideshare spacecraft, the Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter-1, will be carried into GEO. The STP-3 mission debuts the Out-of-Autoclave payload fairings, an in-flight power system and GPS enhanced navigation, according to ULA.