CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — United Launch Alliance on Friday launched an Atlas V rocket carrying two surveillance satellites for U.S. Space Force Mission 8.

Liftoff went off as scheduled at 2 p.m. from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The satellites, which support the U.S. Space Command space surveillance operations, will improve safety by warning spacecraft about nearby objects. This is the first launch of the year from the Space Coast with a national security mission.

The Atlas V 511 used for the launch was the first and only planned flight of the Atlas V 511 configuration, nicknamed "Big Slider." It only has one solid booster on the side of the rocket and had been the only configuration in the Atlas family that had not flown yet.

“With the single SRB, it’s pretty unique where we have that lopsided thrust when we’re coming off the pad," ULA trajectory engineer Thomas Scruggs said. "And so, the RD-180, which is the main engine on the Atlas V, actually has to gimbal to adjust for that thrust that’s coming off the side. And so, we’re able to trim it out and fly perfectly well to get to our target orbit.”

Beyond the liftoff being abnormal and tricky, ULA performed what’s called a “direct-insertion geosynchronous launch,” which means that its sends the satellites to exactly where they need to orbit. It will be several hours after launch before they actually reach that spot.

The last time ULA had had to do that was for another national security launch: the STP-3 mission last month.