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Atlas V rocket launches from Cape Canaveral

Launch moved to Friday after being scrubbed Thursday

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A 19-story Atlas V rocket was set to roll to its pad Wednesday morning for the year's first launch from Cape Canaveral.

A planned Thursday evening blastoff with a U.S. missile warning satellite onboard was scrubbed to Friday due to a violation of Eastern Range safety criteria, ULA officials said. The rocket launched Friday evening.

Oficials said the third U.S. Air Force Space Based Infrared System GEO satellite was responding to commands as planned after the successful launch.

"After a successful ULA launch, signal acquisition is the first critical event in SBIRS' mission to support the Air Force with early missile warning and defense," said David Sheridan, vice president of Lockheed Martin's Overhead Persistent Infrared systems mission area. "With communications now established, our job begins to deliver SBIRS to its final orbit so we can complete deployments and operational testing in anticipation of the satellite’s formal acceptance by the Air Force."

Video of the live stream of the launch is below.

The satellite built by Lockheed Martin is the third in a series designed to detect and track ballistic missiles from a position 22,300 miles above the equator. A fourth satellite is expected to launch late this year to complete the constellation, reported News 6 partner Florida Today.

"Adding this third geostationary satellite to the SBIRS constellation continues our proud legacy of providing best-of-class OPIR solutions that provide real time, 24/7 data to our military and allies," said Robert Mehltretter, vice president, Northrop Grumman Military and Civil Space. "We are looking forward to seeing our sensors capture the first light of real-time world events shortly, and seeing this data delivered to the warfighter will make us proud."

The Atlas V, flying for the 69th time, is launching in its most frequently flown configuration, with no solid rocket motors added to the first stage booster.

The mission is the first of at least seven ULA plans to launch from the Space Coast this year, along with four more from California. Overall, the 45th Space Wing has projected that the Eastern Range could host more than 30 launches this year by ULA, SpaceX and Orbital ATK rockets.