Watch the Nighttime Launch of a New US Military Satellite Tonight!

Watch the Nighttime Launch of a New US Military Satellite Tonight

United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully carried the fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) mission into orbit for the U.S. Air Force on an Atlas V rocket that took off early Tuesday morning from Cape Canaveral.

The satellite, known as Advanced Extremely High Frequency 4 (AEHF-4), departed from Space Launch Complex 41 at 12:15 a.m. local time, lighting up the night as the 21-story rocket made its way over the Atlantic Ocean.

The Lockheed Martin-built satellite was deployed some three hours after liftoff into an orbit about 22,300 miles above Earth.

One AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire legacy five-satellite Milstar constellation.

"The mission of AEHF is to provide survivable protected communications for the military's high-priority assets on the ground, at sea and in the air", said Maj.

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"It's an important asset for the warfighter and will be employed for years to come", Lt. Gen. John Thompson of the USAF Space and Missiles Systems Center in Los Angeles said of AEHF-4 in a statement when the satellite was delivered to its launch site in July. As its name suggests, AEHF-4 is the fourth satellite in the series, which will feature six spacecraft in all when complete.

Lockheed Martin is on contract with the Air Force to deliver the fifth and sixth AEHF satellites and upgraded the Mission Planning ground system. The satellite reportedly cost about $1.8 billion, according to SpaceNews.

The first AEHF satellite launched in 2010.

Wednesday's launch, the 131st for ULA and 79th for an Atlas V rocket, can be viewed on ULA's YouTube channel.

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