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Air Force launches high-priority national security satellite atop Alabama-made ULA rocket

The ability of U.S. forces to communicate anywhere in the world got stronger last night, and Alabamians did their part to make it happen.

The U.S. Air Force sent into space one of its WGS satellites on top of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket made at the company’s Decatur facility.

The ULA Delta IV launched the 10th Air Force mission for the WGS program.

“We are very proud to deliver this critical asset to orbit in support of the U.S. and Allied warfighters deployed around the world defending our national security,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “Thank you to the entire ULA team and mission partners for their outstanding teamwork and dedication to mission success.”

The satellite powered into space on Friday evening will strengthen one of the military’s most vital space-based communications networks. The Air Force called it “the backbone of the U.S. military’s global satellite communications.”

The 218-foot tall Delta IV rocket has served these type of high-priority national security missions since entering service in 2002.

After facing a mere two hour launch window, Delta IV lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida with more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust.

This is the second-to-last launch of the “single-stick” Delta IV while ULA will continue to employ its Delta IV Heavy rocket. The Delta IV Heavy powered last year’s historic Parker Solar Probe launch.

ULA has maintained 100 percent mission success with this, the company’s 133rd launch.

WATCH LAUNCH HIGHLIGHTS:

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News