Atlas V Launches from SLC-3E

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Quijas
  • Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs


VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. - Team Vandenberg launched a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) and NASA's Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator (LOFTID) from Space Launch Complex-3 here Thursday, Nov. 10, at 1:49 a.m. Pacific Time. 

Col. Rob Long, Space Launch Delta 30 commander, was the launch decision authority.

"Today the Western Range closed another chapter in history that began with the first Atlas vehicle launch from SLC-3 in 1958," said Col. Robert Long, Space Launch Delta 30 commander. "Our outstanding Airmen and Guardian professionals continue to showcase flawless execution and teamwork alongside NASA, NOAA and ULA conducting safe launch and range operations to ensure a successful mission."

The advanced JPSS system improves the accuracy and timeliness of numerical weather prediction models to enhance weather forecasting. Surveying the planet twice daily, JPSS-2 will obtain global observations that serve as the backbone of both short- and long-term weather forecasting and climate record-keeping and monitoring.

Data includes imagery, atmospheric temperature and humidity profiles, land and ocean surface temperature measurements, and readings on ozone levels and solar radiation from the planet. Improving the accuracy of weather forecasts enables decision-makers, emergency managers and the public to prepare and pre-position resources that are necessary steps to save lives and property.

JPSS-2 is the 301st Atlas rocket launched from Vandenberg, and the final Atlas variant from Vandenberg Space Force Base. The 300th Atlas launched that occurred last year, was also Team Vandenberg's 2000th launch. NASA's Launch Services Program, based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for managing the launch service.

After JPSS-2 reaches orbit, LOFTID will be put on a reentry trajectory from low-Earth orbit to demonstrate the inflatable aeroshell or heat shield's ability to slow down and survive re-entry. LOFTID's large deployable aeroshell -- an inflatable structure protected by a flexible heat shield -- acts as a giant brake in the atmosphere. The large aeroshell creates more drag than a traditional, smaller rigid aeroshell.

"I'm incredibly lucky to have been the launch director for Team Vandenberg's 2000th launch for the Atlas V Landsat 9 mission as well as today's JPSS-2 mission," said Long, "Our mission partners, in government and industry is critical to our success. While we close this chapter, we are excited about the increased tempo on the horizon at the Western Range."

For questions regarding the launch window or Vandenberg SFB range operations, contact Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs at 805-606-3595 or