This marked the 80th successful launch of an Atlas V rocket, which has successfully launched and precisely delivered the entire AEHF constellation on orbit.
Florida's Space Coast shook with an early morning liftoff Thursday as the U.S. Air Force launched the fifth satellite in a new communications network.
The satellite was launched at 6:13 a.m. (1030 GMT) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop ULA's Atlas V rocket, the same vehicle primed to send a manned space capsule into orbit for NASA by 2020.
This video, taken near the launch site, shows a curly trail left behind from the rocket during sunrise.
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The payload is the fifth communications satellite in the Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) series for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Northrop Grumman is the payload developer and manufacturer.
Aboard is the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite, created to provide the USA military with highly-secure communications. That would include allowing the National Security Council and military top brass to communicate under extreme conditions, such as a nuclear war.
Lockheed Martin built the AEHF-5 for the Air Force, and confirmed via email this afternoon that it not only achieved geostationary transfer obit but is responding as planned to the USAF's 4th Space Operations Squadron.
The AEHF network is the follow-on to the Milstar system, improving on the capabilities of Milstar. The first AEHF satellite was launched in 2010. The cubesat, which can be owned by the US navy, will separate from the rocket's higher stage earlier than AEHF-5 and can take a look at new orbital debris-tracking applied sciences, in accordance to House Information.