Mission success: Alabama’s ULA powers first U.S. Space Force national security launch
Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed the first national security space mission for the newly-formed U.S. Space Force.
Under clear skies Thursday afternoon at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, ULA’s Atlas V rocket lifted off with the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) satellite as its payload. The latest in U.S. Air Force satellite technology, AEHF-6 provides high-tech global communications for American warfighters.
It was a historic launch for the U.S. Space Force and for ULA.
Congrats @ulalaunch on today’s successful launch of #AEHF6—our 1st USSF Nat’l Security Space Launch! Great teamwork by all partners @LockheedMartin @AerojetRdyne @AF_SMC @45thSpaceWing. On behalf of the @SpaceForceDoD & joint warfighters who depend on protected SATCOM…THANK YOU!
— Gen. Jay Raymond (@SpaceForceCSO) March 26, 2020
In a pre-launch message, ULA president and CEO Tory Bruno emphasized the significance of national security space launches for his company.
“At ULA we care a lot about these missions, we understand them, we know how important they are and we are all about their mission success,” he remarked.
The mission marked ULA’s 138th launch while enjoying a 100% success rate.
The Atlas V rocket was assembled at ULA’s North Alabama manufacturing plant. Located in Decatur, the 1.6 million square-foot plant is the largest facility of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
ULA rockets have now carried all six of the AEHF satellites into space. According to ULA, “AEHF gives the warfighters what they need — enhanced communications traffic, increased bandwidth throughput and faster data transmissions.”
Developed by Lockheed-Martin, AEHF-6 will allow the Air Force to improve “global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters.”
Aerojet Rocketdyne manufactured five solid rocket boosters for this Atlas V and provided more than 2.5 million pounds of thrust.
“Thank you to the Aerojet Rocketdyne team for your outstanding partnership,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs, in a release from the company. “The RL10 is integral to our unique Centaur upper stage, supporting ULA’s launches of military, civil and commercial satellites and has sent spacecraft to explore every planet in our solar system.”
Watch Atlas V at the moment of liftoff:
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia