CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - An Atlas V rocket roared off its Cape Canaveral launch pad Friday and zoomed into orbit with an advanced Navy communications satellite.
The 206-foot-tall rocket ignited with blinding light at 9 a.m., 12 minutes later than planned. The launch was delayed because upper-level winds were too strong initially to proceed with a planned 8:48 a.m. liftoff.
Twenty-one seconds into flight, the rocket ducked into a thick deck of clouds, and launch viewers around the Space Coast reported difficulty seeing the vehicle. However, many reported a window-shaking rumble as the Atlas V rocketed toward orbit.
The initial phases of flight all went as planned. The Navy satellite payload is to be deployed just before noon, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.
The Navy Mobile User Objective System spacecraft is the second in a new generation of communications satellites. The 15,000-pound satellite acts like a cellphone tower in space, enabling troops to communicate on the move.
Previous generation spacecraft require troops to stop and set up satellite transmission equipment to communicate. The new satellites also enable troops to communicate with the prior generation gear.
Meanwhile, a planned Aug. 7 launch of a Delta IV rocket and an Air Force communications satellite. The Delta IV Medium vehicle will be equipped with four solid rocket boosters. The launch window on Aug. 7 is 8:29 p.m. to 9:18 p.m.
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