ULA Atlas 5 launches Air Force AEHF-5 communications satellite

Pablo Tucker
August 9, 2019

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V launched the U.S. Air Force's fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite early August 8 after several delays.The Atlas V 551 took off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral and delivered it toward a high-perigee, low-inclination geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Two issues with the rocket were investigated in the minutes before launch, pushing back the initial liftoff time by almost half an hour. Constructed by Lockheed Martin, AEHF constellation will in the end encompass six satellites that may present world and safe communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters on the bottom, within the air and at sea, Lockheed Martin officers stated in a description of the mission.


The rocket is scheduled to elevate off from House Launch Complicated-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Drive Station in Florida throughout a two-hour launch window that opens at 5:44 a.m. EDT (0944 GMT).

AEHF satellites provide secure, jam-proof connectivity for US national leadership and deployed military forces.


Approximately four and a half minutes after liftoff, the Atlas V's Centaur upper stage separated from the rocket's central core and its RL10C-1 engine was ignited. At 6:29 AM launch data showed that the first burn by Centaur inserted the rocket into the target orbit as planned.

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 Centre. The 551 is the largest of the Atlas V configurations, at 197 ft. AEHF-5 is now "talking with" and controlled by the 4th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo., a Lockheed spokesman added.


Also, the Atlas rocket had a CubeSat which will test new orbital debris tracking technology.

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