Standing at 189 feet high the mighty Atlas V with NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes emerges from the Vertical Integration Facility at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch complex 41 on its way to the launch pad. The rocket is moved to the pad on twin rails taking about 30 minutes to complete the 650 yard trip.
In the early Floridian light the mobile launch platform and supporting vehicles slowly trundle up the road to the launch pad in preparation for Friday’s early morning launch. Once on the pad the MLP is secured and the service infrastructure components are transferred to the fixed launch pad. The rocket is now ready for fuelling as part of the countdown process that will start just before 9pm (EST) this evening.
Fuelling is scheduled to start just before 2am (EST) Friday morning with the night launch targeted for 4:07am (EST) 8:30 GMT. There is a 20 minute window for launching the rocket which gives a little leeway for bad weather or a small technical glitch.
The chances of weather cancelling the launch have improved from 40% to 30% with cloud thickness being the main concern at this time. The weather at launch time is forecast for scattered low and high level clouds and light winds from the south east.
Our image gallery of the rollout and launch pad follows: