Atlas 5 rocket launched with Air Force communications satellite
Cape Canaveral witnessed the launch of Atlas 5 rocket on Thursday. It contained U.S Air Force communications satellite worth 1.1 billion dollars. The 60 meters tall Atlas 5 lifted from the pad at 6:13 a.m EDT.
This titan has a Kerosene-fueled main engine and 5 straps on solid boosters. The main engine has the capability to produce 206 million pounds of thrust which helps to push it to the sky, with Air Force’s fifth Advanced Extremely high-Frequency communication satellite. It took four and a half minutes to finish the lift-off and completes its first stage. As expected the ground control team from Colorado began communicating with AEHF “This fifth satellite adds an additional layer of flexibility for critical strategic and tactical protected communications serving the warfighter,” said Mike Cacheiro, vice president for protected communications at Lockheed Martin. “This added resilience to the existing constellation will help ensure warfighters can connect globally to communicate and transmit data at all times.
Extra hardware and maneuvering fuel were added to the centaur stage which helped the launcher to its final geostationary orbit. There have been some heavy modifications done to Atlas 5. It includes a full load of hydrazine to control the upper stage, extra battery power, extra shield provided to Centaurs hydrogen tanks and additional battery power.
AEHF will reach its destination, geostationary orbit by October. This satellite is powerful enough to withstand jamming and radiation from nuclear attack. Due to the failed batteries and components, the launch was delayed from late June. The authorities haven’t said which component was affected. ULAs rival SpaceX operated Falcon 9 took off with Israel owned Amos 17 commercial communication satellite about 10.5 miles away from launching pad of Atlas 5 on Tuesday a 7:23 pm EDT
The next mission of ULA will be to carry GPS navigation satellite into orbit. This satellite will be carried by Delta 4 rocket from Cape Canaveral on 22nd of August.