The U.S. Air Force successfully launched the third Advanced Extremely High Frequency communication satellite at 4:10 a.m., EDT, Sept. 18, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
The satellite was carried to orbit aboard an United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle.
The satellite successfully separated from the launch vehicle approximately 51 minutes after liftoff and will now undergo approximately 110 days of orbit-raising operations, followed by approximately 60 days of on-orbit testing.
After these critical events, AEHF-3 will be ready to transfer to the 14th Air Force for Satellite Control Authority.
“We are proud of the tremendous efforts by the combined ULA, Lockheed Martin, SMC and the 45th Space Wing military, government civilians and contractors team in making this launch such a success,” said Col. Rodney Miller, Protected SATCOM Division chief, Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate. “The satellite is healthy and operating as expected. We have now turned our attention to maneuvering it into its final orbital location over the next several months and look forward to many years of service in providing critical communication capabilities to our warfighters around the world.”
AEHF is a joint service satellite communications system that will provide survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets to the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. This system will enhance interoperability between our joint warfighters across the globe. The AEHF system is the follow-on to the Milstar system – augmenting, improving and expanding the Department of Defense’s Military Satellite Communications architecture.
AEHF-3 was procured from Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company by the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate, part of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center. The MILSATCOM Systems Directorate plans, acquires and sustains space-based global communications in support of the president, secretary of defense and combat forces. The entire MILSATCOM enterprise consists of satellites, terminals and control stations and provides communications for more than 16,000 air, land and sea platforms.
The Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force’s center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems, including the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, the Air Force satellite control network, space based infrared surveillance systems and space situational awareness capabilities.