United Launch Alliance (ULA) and the US Air Force (USAF) have performed off-site vertical integration (OVI) of several structural elements and the Centaur upper stage for the Atlas V launch vehicle.
OVI is aimed at minimising the number of lifting operations performed at the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Cape Canaveral, enabling to reduce time between launches.
ULA Atlas and Delta Programs vice-president Jim Sponnick said: "With OVI, the team developed an innovative process that provides safer and more efficient launch processing of the Atlas vehicle."
"The associated one-week reduction in the launch-to-launch processing spans enables us to better meet the launch needs of our customers."
The OVI process comprises the integration of six structural elements along with the Centaur upper stage inside a test cell in the Delta Operations Center (DOC).
The relocation of these operations will avoid weather-related processing delays and also offer a safer working environment for employees.
Space and Missile Systems Center commander lieutenant general Sam Greaves said: "The Air Force is pleased to partner with ULA to find and implement efficiencies.
"We are fully onboard with efforts to implement continuous process improvement, a key tenant of better buying power 3.0."
ULA is scheduled to launch the MUOS-4 mission for the US Air Force and the US Navy on 31 August aboard an Atlas V from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
MUOS-4 is the next satellite aimed to secure communications network that comprises orbiting satellites and relay ground stations.
With operational MUOS terminals, the mobile military forces will be able to seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight around the globe and into the global information grid.
Image: Lockheed Martin recently encapsulated the fourth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-4) satellite in its protective launch vehicle. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance.