The second U.S. Air Force Advanced Extreme High Frequency (AEHF) communications spacecraft was successfully launched into a super synchronous transfer orbit May 4 atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 531 rocket.
Liftoff of the 197 ft. tall 2.7 million lb. thrust vehicle from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station occurred at 2:42 p.m. EDT.
“The 13,600 lb. satellite cost $1.7 billion”, said USAF Capt. John Francis, the AEHF project lead in charge of Operations and Sustainment. This makes it one of the most expensive military spacecraft ever launched from Cape Canaveral. The first AEHF spacecraft launched in August 2010 also cost $1.7 billion.
“The AEHF satellite series is the most sophisticated military communications system ever built and it will be a integral part of our national space security architecture,” said Steve Tatum, Lockheed-Martin’s Communications Director.
“We’re extremely pleased and excited with today’s launch,” said USAF Capt. Francis. “We have a big AEHF-2 team and it all culminated today,” he said. It’s kind of like the Super Bowl – and we just scored the winning touchdown.”