United Launch Alliance's Atlas V vehicle has sent the sixth Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite to orbit as part of the U.S. Space Force's efforts to support military communications around the world.
The Atlas V 551 rocket carrying AEHF-6 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday at 4:18 p.m. EDT and was powered by Aerojet Rocketdyne's RL10C-1 engine and AJ-60A solid rocket boosters, ULA said Thursday
Gen. John Raymond, chief of space operations at the Space Force and a 2020 Wash100 Award recipient, said the AEHF-6 mission serves as the first national security space launch for the new service branch.
“We understand the critical importance of delivering protected communications to strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air,“ said Tory Bruno, president and CEO of ULA and a former Wash100 winner.
In a separate release, Lockheed said that AEHF-6 separated from Atlas V around five hours and 45 minutes after launch. The satellite is currently responding to ground-control commands.
“This is a great milestone to share with the U.S. Space Force's Space and Missiles Systems Center,“ said Mike Cacheiro, vice president for protected communications at Lockheed's space business. "I am incredibly proud of the teams that made this happen over the many years supporting the program."
ULA is slated to launch another Space Force mission, USSF-7, in May.