Atlas V rocket launches high-speed internet satellite – USA TODAY
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. â United Launch Alliance closed the books on Cape Canaveralâs 2016 launch schedule with an Atlas V rocketâs successful Sunday afternoon delivery of a high-speed Internet satellite to orbit.
The 20-story rocket shot from its Launch Complex 41 pad with nearly 2 million pounds of thrust at 2:13 p.m., trailing a long plume of white exhaust as it thundered southeast over the Atlantic Ocean, as rain drops began to fall near the launch site.
Thirty-two minutes later, the rocketâs Centaur upper-stage deployed EchoStar 19, a commercial satellite that will offer the highest broadband Internet capacity of any satellite launched for Hughes Network Services, a subsidiary of EchoStar Corp.
Hughes will use the nearly 15,000-pound satellite, flying 22,300 miles over the equator,Â to offer Internet access to homes and businesses in parts of North America lacking reliable high-speed connections.
âThis is very significant launch,â said Mike Cook, senior vice president for Hughes. âIt is something that from a business perspective weâve been waiting for for a long time. And it is something which we think is of significance to the country. Today, everybody is looking for and needs high-quality Internet access. This mission will allow us to bring even better services to the underserved communities across the country.â
A glitch in the rocketâs avionics system triggered a countdown abort just over a minute before a planned 1:27 p.m. liftoff, at the opening of Sunday’s two-hour launch window.
The issue was solved and the rocket set sail 46Â minutes later, just as rain drops began to fall near the launch site. Minutes later a dramatic double-rainbow formed east of the Cape.
The launch was ULAâs 12th success in as many missions in 2016, including 10 departing from Cape Canaveral. It was the 68th Atlas V launch without a major failure since its debut in 2002.
Another Atlas V will kick off ULAâs 2017 manifest, targeting a Jan. 19 liftoff from the Cape with a U.S. government missile warning satellite.