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Atlas Launch Visibility
updated: Aug 13, 2014, 1:15 PM

By Brian Webb

Update, 8/13/14
The following is a United Launch Alliance news release:

United Launch Alliance Atlas V Launches WorldView-3 Satellite for DigitalGlobe

Tenth Successful ULA Launch of 2014

Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., (Aug. 13, 2014) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-3 satellite for DigitalGlobe launched at 11:30 a.m. PDT today from Space Launch Complex-3. Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services procured the Atlas V for this mission. This is the fourth successful launch in six weeks and the 87th successful mission since ULA was formed in December 2006.

“Congratulations to our commercial mission partners Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and Digital Globe for today’s spectacular launch of the Atlas V carrying the WorldView-3 satellite,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “The team’s dedication to mission success, one launch at a time, brought us to today’s successful launch, delivering WorldView-3 to provide the next generation in earth imaging capabilities for DigitalGlobe.”

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter-diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10A engine.

“This launch marks ULA’s tenth successful launch of fifteen planned this year,” said Sponnick. “The ULA team remains focused mission success and on-time deliveries for our customer’s most valuable payloads.”

WorldView-3 is the first multi-payload super-spectral, high resolution commercial satellite for earth observations and advanced geospatial solutions. This high spatial resolution multispectral satellite imagery is used for civil government mapping, land use planning, disaster relief, exploration, defense, intelligence, visualization and simulation environments.

ULA's next launch is the Atlas V CLIO mission for the U.S. Government from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 80 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system. ULA – Bringing rocket science down to Earth.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com , or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch and twitter.com/ulalaunch


An Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView 3 commercial Earth imaging satellite is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg AFB late on the morning of August 13.

Plans call for the Atlas to lift off from Space Launch Complex 3 (SLC-3) at south Vandenberg at 11:29 PDT, the start of a 15-minute launch window. However, issues such as technical problems, bad weather, or ships or aircraft straying into the range can cause the launch to happen at any time during the window or to be rescheduled for another day.

At liftoff, the Atlas will rise vertically for several seconds before it slowly begins to pitch over and head southward. The vehicle will briefly produce a contrail as it passes through a zone that extends roughly from 33,000 to 38,000 feet above sea level.

The Atlas V rocket variant for slated for launch on Wednesday uses liquid propellant engines, but no strap-on solid rocket motors. Unlike solid motors, which produce a brilliant flame, liquid propellant engines produce a much fainter flame.

At launch time, the Sun will be high above the horizon, creating a bright sky background. The rocket's use of liquid propellants and the bright sky will greatly diminish the visibility of the launch.

Under the best of circumstances, the Atlas V will probably only be visible for the first few minutes of flight from liftoff to first stage cutoff and stage 1/2 separation.

Under good conditions, observers within seven miles of the launch pad should enjoy a nice display. For launch watchers in outlying areas, the display will be subdued.

Under very good conditions, the first stage flame may be visible to the naked eye as far away as Ventura, Pismo Beach, and Taft. The short contrail from the first stage may be visible to the unaided eye as far away as Pasadena, King City, and Bakersfield.



For August 13 (planned launch date):

Overall probability of violating weather constraints: 40%

Area of concern: Clouds below 2,000 feet

For August 14 (backup launch date):

Overall probability of violating weather constraints for 24 Hour Delay: 40%

Area of concern: Clouds below 2,000 feet



For launch and countdown status for the Atlas V/WorldView 3 launch, consult the following sources:

Web Sites with Countdown Status:





Satellite Feeds:

Satellite: AMC-1

Transponder: 15 C SLOT A

Band: C-Band Digital

Orbital Position: 103 degrees west

HD Bandwidth: 18 MHz (half transponder 'AB')

Downlink Freq: 3991 MHz (Horizontal)

Uplink Freq: 6216 MHz (Vertical)

Symbol Rate: 13

FEC: 3/4

Data Rate: 17.9705



Audio Embedded

Twitter Updates:





For additional information related to the Atlas V/WorldView 3 launch, go to the following sources:

Launch Vehicle




Launch Viewing


Photographing Launches



The Launch Readiness Review was completed in advance of the launch of an Atlas V rocket carrying DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 payload for Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services. The mission is set to lift off on Wednesday, Aug. 13 from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 11:30 a.m. PDT. Today’s L-1 forecast shows a 40 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.


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