Cape Canaveral Set For First 2012 Launch

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Jan. 18 (UPI) — Forecasters at Cape Canaveral in Florida say weather conditions look good for the first launch of 2012, set for late Thursday.

A Delta IV rocket carrying a next-generation military communications satellite is scheduled to launch at 7:38 p.m., Florida Today reported.

A forecast from the Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron said there was just a 10 percent chance of strong ground winds being a factor during the launch window that would be open until 9:11 p.m.

The $466 million Defense Department satellite being launched is intended to meet a demand for more and more communications capacity to beam huge video files to commanders and troops around the world.

The military’s growing reliance on unmanned drones to collect intelligence and strike enemy targets is driving a demand for more communication bandwidth, a demand the upgraded new satellite is meant to meet.

The satellite will provide huge data rates to send TV-quality video and other “large, large files of intelligence information that have to get to the warfighter so he can predict what’s happening,” Dave Madden at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles said.

The new satellite has as much data capacity as four or more previous-generation satellites, he said.

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