ULA Atlas 5 launches Air Force AEHF-5 communications satellite

Katie Ramirez
August 9, 2019

Early risers across Florida were treated to a morning spectacle Thursday when a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket vaulted off the pad at Cape Canaveral, its massive exhaust plume illuminated by sunlight waiting just over the horizon. Built by Lockheed Martin, the satellites are used for highly protected communications by high-priority military assets and national leaders.

Aboard is the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite, created to provide the US military with highly-secure communications.

A almost 200-foot United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carried AEHF-5 into space after more than a month's delay.

Today's launch was delayed twice over the last several weeks.

Producing more than two and a half million pounds of thrust at liftoff, the Atlas V 551 configuration rocket is the most powerful in the Atlas V fleet.

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The rocket will deploy an advanced communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force, according to the NASA website.

The satellite rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, leaving curvy cloud-like streaks across the Central to South Florida sky.

A secondary payload - a small cubesat - will hitch a journey to orbit with AEHF-5. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the five AJ-60A solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage.

The satellite was the fifth of six anti-jamming satellites in the AEHF constellation.

AEHF-5, with its advanced Extended Data Rate (XDR) waveform technology, adds to the constellation's high-bandwidth network. The cubesat, which can be owned by the USA 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.

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