Launch Tonight! US Navy Aims to Loft New Military Satellite
A United Launch Alliance rocket carrying the U.S. Navy's MUOS-1 satellite stands poised for launch in this view from a ULA webcast on Feb. 16, 2012.
Credit: United Launch Alliance

UPDATE for Feb. 24: The U.S. Navy will attempt to launch its new MUOS-1 communications satellite tonight  at 5:15 p.m. EST (2215 GMT). Two previous blastoff attempts — one on Feb. 16 and another on Feb. 17 — were delayed by strong winds and thick clouds.'s coverage of the initial launch scrub follows below:

Today's (Feb. 16) scheduled launch of a next-generation military communications satellite has been scrubbed due to strong winds.

The United States Navy was slated to launch its Mobile User Objective System-1 (MUOS-1) satellite today at 5:46 p.m. EST (2246 GMT) aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Persistently high upper-level winds delayed the liftoff, however, and managers finally called the launch off at 6:28 p.m. EST (2328 GMT), just one minute before the window officially closed.

The next launch window opens Friday (Feb. 17) and extends from 5:42 p.m. to 6:26 p.m. EST (2242 to 2326 GMT).

MUOS-1 is the first satellite in a planned four-spacecraft constellation designed to augment and eventually replace the current network that helps American warfighters around the globe communicate and coordinate. The current system, called UHF Follow-On (or UFO), is aging, and two of its satellites stopped working several years ago.

Aerospace firm Lockheed Martin is building the MUOS satellites. The company won a $2.1 billion Navy contract to build MUOS-1, MUOS-2 and associated ground control architecture back in September 2004. The Navy later exercised an option to build three more MUOS spacecraft, one of which will serve as an orbiting spare.

The MUOS-1 satellite launch will be webcast live via the United Launch Alliance here. partner Spaceflight Now will offer live launch updates here.

You can follow senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter: @michaeldwall. Follow for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcomand on Facebook.