A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on March 26 at 4:18 p.m. EDT. This marks the 83rd successful launch of an Atlas V rocket, 138th launch for ULA and first mission for the U.S. Space Force.
The AEHF-6 satellite will bring additional capabilities and resilience to the constellation which already ensures «always-on» communications and the ability to transmit data anywhere, anytime. Once on orbit, AEHF-6 will complete the constellation, as well as mark the first launch under U.S. Space Force control. AEHF-6 will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket in an Atlas V 551 configuration.
«While this is the final AEHF satellite launch, it really brings the constellation to full strength, capability and truly marks the beginning of the AEHF system’s full lifecycle», said Mike Cacheiro, vice president for Protected Communications at Lockheed Martin. «Still, it is a bittersweet moment for everyone involved, knowing this is our last launch for the AEHF program. Myself, as well as all of the employees who have supported the program at Lockheed Martin are incredibly grateful for our continued partnership with the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missiles Systems Center».
AEHF-6 is part of the AEHF system – a resilient satellite constellation providing global coverage and a sophisticated ground control system. Together the constellation provides survivable, protected communications capabilities for national leaders and tactical warfighters operating across ground, sea and air platforms. The anti-jam system also serves international allies to include Canada, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and now Australia.
Lockheed Martin developed and manufactured AEHF-6 at its satellite production facility located in Sunnyvale, California. In January, the satellite shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station courtesy of a Super Galaxy C-5 aircraft from the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the AEHF system, and the AEHF team is led by the Production Corps, Medium Earth Orbit Division, at the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, at Los Angeles Air Force Base.