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

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the U.S. military's Advanced Extremely High Frequency 4 communications satellite moves to the launchpad ahead of an Oct. 17, 2018, liftoff.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the U.S. military's Advanced Extremely High Frequency 4 communications satellite moves to the launchpad ahead of an Oct. 17, 2018, liftoff. (Image credit: United Launch Alliance)

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.

The Advanced Extremely High Frequency 4 communications satellite for the U.S. military is the fourth in a six-satellite constellation. (Image credit: Lockheed Martin)

"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.

Editor's note: Visit tonight for live video of the AEHF-4 satellite launch. If you capture an amazing photo or video of the launch that you'd like to share with and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, send images and comments to

Email Tariq Malik at or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.