The fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) communications satellite was launched by a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on Thursday for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The Atlas 5 lifted off at 6:13 AM EST from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida in the 551 setup with five strong rocket boosters.
AEHF satellites provide U.S. national leadership and deployed military force with secure, jam-proof connectivity. The first four AEHF satellites were launched successfully by Atlas V rockets in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2018.
The launch of the AEHF-5 marks the 80th Atlas 5 mission since the launch in 2002 and the 10th in the 551 configuration with the upper stage of the Centaur and a payload fairing of five meters in diameter.
The 6,500 kilograms. AEHF-5 completes a five-satellite geostationary ring that provides worldwide coverage to the United States and international partners Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The Centaur upper stage of the Atlas 5 rocket completed the first burn at 6:25 AM. Data from the launch at 6:29 AM showed that Centaur’s first burn inserted the rocket as planned into the target orbit.
For Centaur, the second primary engine cutoff was confirmed at 6:42 AM, finishing the next step towards the targeted AEHF-5 orbit. Then the rocket started a five-hour coast away from Earth to achieve the right space point for the upper stage’s third burn. The Centaur carries an experimental cubesat as a rideshare payload.