A satellite designed to help the U.S. military keep tabs on the ever-growing population of orbiting objects took to the skies atop a converted missile early this morning (Aug. 26).
The Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space-5 (ORS-5) satellite lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 2:04 a.m. EDT today (0604 GMT) atop an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket, which carved a fiery orange arc into the sky as it rose.
If everything goes according to plan, ORS-5 will settle into a circular orbit 372 miles (600 kilometers) over the equator. From this vantage point, the 310-lb. (140 kilograms) satellite will scan the geosynchronous belt, a region about 22,300 miles (35,800 km) up that harbors many valuable communications and weather satellites, both government and commercial.