United Launch Alliance is about to launch a communications satellite for the US space force from Cape Canaveral, Florida this afternoon – the company’s first flight for the recently minted military branch. The flight takes place in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced other rocket companies to resign from their missions to space.
For ULA, the pandemic has not stopped the company’s ability to proceed with launch preparations, although they made some adjustments to protect their workers. In early March, before state governments began issuing lockdowns, ULA CEO Tory Bruno said the company had issued new precautions in response to the outbreak, such as limiting how many people could be in meetings and eliminating all unnecessary trips, according to space News. However, trips in connection with upcoming launches ̵
ULA confirmed that these policies still exist and that the company has made it easier for employees to work from home. A “cross-functional team” also monitors the situation and follows CDC guidelines, according to ULA. At the same time, the company cleans its facilities daily and quarantines personnel who may have been exposed to people with COVID-19.
ULA says it does not foresee any delays in the future. “As for other launches or developments, we are currently not projecting any disruption to our manifesto,” a ULA spokesman said in a statement. “ULA works closely with our assignment partners to navigate this outstanding situation. We are working to ensure that we retain a fully functioning mission-critical ability to support our nation. “
While ULA can still launch, other US space companies are down or shooting missions as they begin to feel the full weight of the pandemic. Small satellite launch Rocket Lab announced it would delay its upcoming launch from New Zealand next week to “protect the health of our team members, our families and the community.” At the same time, SpaceX’s upcoming launch of a Venezuelan satellite has been postponed indefinitely due to restrictions imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19. It’s not just about launching companies that hurt. Bigelow Aerospace, which creates space environments, laid off its entire workforce this week to comply with Nevada’s governor’s order to close all non-essential companies.
Things may change for ULA in the future, but for the time being, the company is ready to launch its workhorse Atlas V rocket. The vehicle sings the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite, or AEHF-6, for space strength. The satellite, which is moving toward a high orbit 22,000 miles up, will join the five other AEHF satellites already in space that “provide global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic commanders and tactical warriors working on the ground. , sea and air platforms, “According to the company. ULA also launched all other AEHF satellites.
The launch of ULA’s Atlas V is scheduled for 14:57 ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and the company has a two-hour launch window to get the rocket into the air. ULA plans to provide live coverage of the launch beginning at. 2:37 PM ET, so come back then to see Atlas V take flight.