The fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite was successfully launched into orbit Aug. 8.
The Air Force satellite was launched at 6:13 a.m. from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Following its six-hour journey, the satellite arrived in geosynchronous orbit alongside the four other AEHF satellites already operating in orbit.
The satellite was the fifth of six anti-jamming satellites in the AEHF constellation. Built by Lockheed Martin, the satellites are used for highly protected communications by high-priority military assets and national leaders. Just one AEHF satellite provides three times more capacity than the entire Milstar constellation, the legacy system it is replacing.
The fourth satellite was officially accepted by the Air Force’s 4th Space Operations Squadron May 3.
Today’s launch was delayed twice over the last several weeks. The satellite was initially scheduled to be launched June 27, but the discovery of a battery failure on the launch vehicle delayed it until July 17. The launch was further delayed to Aug. 8 “due to an anomaly during component testing at a supplier which has created a cross-over concern.”
“The ULA and supplier teams continue to demonstrate the highest dedication to mission success as we overcame several technical issues during the last few weeks,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of government and commercial programs. “Thank you to the entire team and our government mission partners for the outstanding partnership and teamwork to deliver these critical payloads to orbit.”
The next ULA launch will be Aug. 22, when they send the Air Force’s latest GPS III satellite into orbit on a Delta IV rocket.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.