CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — It was the first of two launches scheduled for Thursday, a historic moment for the Space Coast as the United Launch Alliance (ULA) sent up the SBIRS GEO 6.

What You Need To Know

ULA’s Atlas V rocket lifted off the sixth and final Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The launch window opened at 6:29 a.m. EDT.

The 45th Weather Squadron gave a 70% chance of favorable launch weather for this mission.

ULA’s launch was the first on deck and then SpaceX is targeting a launch 12 hours later. The last time the Space Coast saw a double launch in one day was back in 1966 during the space race

About the mission

The 194-foot-tall Atlas V sent the SBIRS GEO 6 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The six indicates that this is the sixth and final of these satellites being deployed for the Space Force’s Space Systems Command. The first launch was in 2011 with SBIRS GEO 1.

The SBIRS GEO 6 satellite was built by Lockheed Martin and finished a month ahead of schedule in 2021.

This program began more than 11 years ago and was designed to support and augment the older, 23-satellite Defense Support Program constellation. These satellites have a 12-year lifespan.

The SBIRS constellation uses infrared sensing to detect and provide warning of many kinds of missile launches and relay that information to the president and combatant commanders to be able to respond accordingly.

Just last month, ULA launched the USSF-12 mission, which included the Wide Field of View that also detects missile activity.

Space Force officials said in a briefing this week that with the evolving capability of adversaries to develop hypersonic and other weapons, having more ways to detect that activity becomes more crucial than ever.

Watch the launch