Weather looks good for Atlas V launch from Cape Canaveral

Launch window extends from 6:01 p.m.

Published On: Mar 18 2013 06:19:26 PM EDT
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -

The U.S. Air Force is gearing up for the planned launch Tuesday of a new-generation missile-warning satellite as the weather is expected to be acceptable for flight.

Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports mounted atop a 189-foot-tall Atlas V rocket, the Space-Based Infrared System satellite is scheduled to lift off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:21 p.m. EDT Tuesday. The launch window will extend through 6:01 p.m. EDT.

Air Force meteorologists say there is a 70 percent chance the weather will be acceptable for flight. The prime concern is the possibility of electrically charged cumulus clouds in the area during the launch window. Rockets flying through cumulus clouds could trigger destructive bolts of lightning.

The satellite is one of a new generation of Air Force spacecraft capable of providing early warning of intercontinental and short-range ballistic missiles launched anywhere around the world. The spacecraft are equipped with telescopes and infrared sensors that detect heat from missile exhaust plumes.

Mission managers conducted a launch readiness review last Friday and cleared the United Launch Alliance rocket and its payload for flight. The rocket was moved out of its assembly building and headed for the launch pad this morning.