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United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches SBIRS GEO Flight 5 Mission in Support of National Security

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
May 18, 2021
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A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 5 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41at 1:37 p.m. EDT on May 18. (Credit; United Launch Alliance)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. May 18, 2021 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO) Flight 5 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) lifted off on May 18 at 1:37 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. To date ULA has launched 144 times with 100 percent mission success.

“Thank you to our mission partners for the tremendous teamwork as we processed and launched this asset that provides powerful surveillance and critical capabilities to protect our warfighters,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “We are proud to work with the U.S. Space Force to continue to meet the national security needs of our country.”

The mission launched on an Atlas V 421 configuration rocket that included a 13.7-ft (4-m) Extra Extended Payload Fairing (XEPF). The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the RL10C-1-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage and the two AJ-60A solid rocket boosters.

This was the 87th launch of the Atlas V rocket and the 72nd Atlas V to launch from Space Launch Complex-41 in Florida.

ULA’s next launch is the Space Test Program (STP)-3 mission for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, planned for June 23, 2021, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 140 missions to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, deliver cutting-edge commercial services and enable GPS navigation. For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321).

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6 responses to “United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches SBIRS GEO Flight 5 Mission in Support of National Security”

  1. redneck says:

    144 missions under their belt. No way anyone will launch more times than ULA. and a century of experience to boot. Makes me doubt my memory of reading that the first liquid fueled rocket flew in 1926 and the first one reached space in 1942 both events being less than a century ago.

    • ThomasLMatula says:

      The Falcon 9 has launched 121 times with 119 successful flights. At the rate it’s launching it should pass ULA in a year or so.

      • redneck says:

        I should have used a sarc tag. Sorry. At current cadence, the Falcon9 alone should surpass the ULA group of rockets in launch numbers very early next year. Atlas, Delta 4 and Delta 2 vs Falcon9. Falcon1 and Starship work not included.

        Edit. Also, ULA had a head start as ULA plus a bunch of legacy companies. SpaceX should not have been a problem for them given reasonable focus.

  2. ThomasLMatula says:

    Congratulations on a very successful launch!

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