SpaceX and ULA celebrate July 4 with two rocket launches

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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launch brought the fireworks to dark gray skies over the Space Coast on Friday ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

Friday’s launch saw the 196-foot-tall ULA Atlas V rocket vault from its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:15 p.m. It came after a failed attempt on Thursday evening that canceled due to bad weather over the spaceport.

The mission, called USSF-12, marked the week’s second launch from the Space Coast.

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Onlookers at Cape Canaveral watch the launch of the ULA Atlas V USSF-12 mission at 7:15 p.m. Friday launched from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Packed into the rocket’s nose cone were the Wide Field of View (WFOV) missile early warning satellite for the US Space Force and the USSF-12 Ring spacecraft for the Department of Defense.

Just two days earlier, SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket at 5:04 p.m. Wednesday evening, delivering the SES-22 communications satellite into orbit for Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES.

The Falcon 9 would later land on a drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean to be flown back to Port Canaveral a few days later.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, June 29, 2022. The rocket is carrying a commercial communications satellite.  Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

Like Thursday’s launch attempt, ULA also encountered some weather delays on Friday.

Liftoff was delayed an hour and 15 minutes as teams had to wait for high winds in the atmosphere to subside and a pesky anvil cloud that hung over the spaceport to clear.

The rocket featured four solid rocket boosters that created a fantastic trail visible to onlookers against the cloudy sky on Friday night.

ULA said it would take about six hours after liftoff for the rocket’s upper stage to arrive at its intended delivery location and deploy the payloads.

For the latest information, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.

Jamie Groh is a space reporter for Florida Today. You can contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @AlteredJamie.

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