Spaceflight Insider

Gallery: AFSPC-11 mission soars skyward

Using five supplemental solid rocket boosters and a single RD-180 engine, the Atlas V 551 rocket leaps off the pad to send the AFSPC-11 mission to space. Photo Credit: Ryan Chylinski / SpaceFlight Insider

Using five supplemental solid rocket boosters and a single RD-180 engine, the Atlas V 551 rocket leaps off the pad to send the AFSPC-11 mission to space. Photo Credit: Ryan Chylinski / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Lifting off during the “golden hour” of photography, United Launch Alliance flew its Atlas V rocket with the AFSPC-11 mission into space. SpaceFlight Insider was able to capture vivid imagery via remote cameras on the pad and from team members on a causeway several miles away.

Liftoff took place at 7:13 p.m. EDT (23:13 GMT) April 14, 2018, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 to deliver two satellites to geostationary orbit for the United States Air Force.

The Atlas V used for the flight was in its most-powerful configuration, the “551” variant. It sported five supplemental Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-60A solid rocket boosters, a five-meter payload fairing and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. Overall, this was the eighth time this version was used. For more information, read SFI’s post-launch story here.

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The following photos were taken by the SpaceFlight Insider visual team.

AFSPC-11CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 551 rocket was used to launch the Air Force Space Command 11 (AFSPC-11) payload to orbit. The launch took place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 on Saturday, April 14, 2018. The mission began with the launch vehicle lifting off from the pad at 7:13 p.m. ET. This version of the reliable Atlas V rocket utilizes a five meter payload fairing (nosecone) as well as five Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-60A solid rocket boosters. The first stage is powered by a lone RD-180 rocket engine with the Centaur upper stage using an RL-10C engine. This configuration of the Atlas V is capable of delivering 19,621 lbs (8,900 kilograms) of payload to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). Photos courtesy: Mike Howard, Scott Schilke, Mike Deep, Vikash Mahadeo, Ryan Chylinski

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