Atlas V Launches AEHF-2 Satellite For Classified U.S. Messages

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V carries a U.S. Air Force/ Lockheed Martin AEHF spacecraft to orbit. The AEHF-2 satellite will carry the most highly-classified U. S. satcom traffic. This flight marks the 30th successful Atlas V mission; the launch vehicle has a 100 percent success record. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/


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.

Three Aerojet solid rocket boosters along with the Russian-built RD-180 engine send out a massive plume of fury as the Atlas V 531 roars into Florida’s blue sky. Photo Credit: Jeffrey J. Soulliere


“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.”

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