An Atlas V rocket will light up the midnight sky over Florida early Wednesday (Oct. 17) to launch a new high-tech military satellite into orbit, and you can watch the liftoff live online.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V is scheduled to launch the new satellite — called the Advanced Extremely High Frequency 4 spacecraft, or AEHF-4 — is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:15 a.m. EDT (0415 GMT). You can watch a launch webcast live here, courtesy of ULA, beginning at 11:55 p.m. EDT (0355 GMT).
Built by Lockheed Martin, AEHF-4 is the fourth in a series of high-powered military communications designed to "provide survivable, global, secure, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea, and air assets," according to a U.S. Air Force description. The satellite reportedly cost about $1.8 billion, according to SpaceNews.
"This fourth satellite will complete a worldwide ring of AEHF satellites to deliver global extended data rate (XDR) coverage for the U.S. Air Force and for the partner nations – Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – that also connect to the AEHF network," Mike Cacheiro, Lockheed Martin vice president of protected communications, said in a statement.
The first AEHF satellite launched in 2010. Lockheed Martin is building six satellites in all for the U.S. military. The new AEHF satellites are replacing the military's aging Milstar constellation. Just one AEHF satellite has more communications capacity than all five Milstar satellites, Lockheed Martin representatives have said.
"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.
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