Space Test Program 3 Weather Forecast: 90% Chance Favorable

Lifting off from Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will take the Department of Defense Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft, which hosts NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predict a 90% chance of favorable weather Sunday, Dec. 5, for launch of the Department of Defense (DOD) Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission on United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 551 rocket. The two-hour launch window opens at 4:04 a.m. EST.

Lifting off from Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) in Florida, the ULA rocket will take the DOD’s Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft, which hosts NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder.

LCRD is about the size of a king-sized mattress and seeks to make operational laser communications a reality. As space missions generate and collect more data, higher bandwidth communications technologies are needed to bring data home, and laser communications systems offer higher bandwidth in a smaller package that uses less power. LCRD will send and receive data over infrared lasers at approximately 1.2 gigabits per second from geosynchronous orbit to Earth.

UVSC Pathfinder is a joint NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory experiment that studies the origins of solar energetic particles, the Sun’s most dangerous form of radiation.

Forecast Details
High pressure will build at the surface over central Florida through Saturday. This will keep the launch area dry all day Friday with light winds and near average temperatures. The surface high retreats into the Atlantic Ocean slightly Sunday into Monday, bringing light winds Sunday coming from the south on Monday, and a slight chance for isolated low topped showers near the coast, especially on Monday. Therefore, the primary concern for launch day is the cumulus cloud rule.

Launch Coverage: Dec. 5
Live coverage and countdown commentary of the launch will begin at 3:30 a.m. EST and air on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, Daily Motion, Theta.TV and the NASA App.

NASA invites the public to register to virtually attend the launch and receive mission updates and activities via email. NASA’s virtual guest program for LCRD includes curated launch resources, notifications about related opportunities, and a virtual guest passport stamp.

Teachers and students can explore the LCRD STEM Tool Kit. The kit includes five activity sheets, each designed for a target grade-level range, a model of STPSat-6 that students and teachers can 3D print, an overview of LCRD, and several other printable items. Many of the toolkit resources are also available in Spanish.

Stay connected with the LCRD mission on social media:
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