Update for Thursday, 6:45 am ET: The United Launch Alliance has successfully launched an Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-5 military satellite for the U.S. Air Force. Read our full story here.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch a military communications satellite together with an experimental cubesat early Thursday morning (Aug. 8), and you can watch the mission live online.
The rocket is scheduled to lift off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida during a two-hour launch window that opens at 5:44 a.m. EDT (0944 GMT). A webcast of the launch will begin at 5:24 a.m. EDT (0924 GMT), and you can watch it live here on Space.com, courtesy of the United Launch Alliance.
This mission's primary payload is the U.S. Air Force's fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) satellite. Built by Lockheed Martin, AEHF constellation will ultimately consist of six satellites that will provide global and secure communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters on the ground, in the air and at sea, Lockheed Martin officials said in a description of the mission.
Each of the six AEHF satellites will provide coverage from a geostationary orbit, meaning that they constantly "hover" over the same position above the Earth by following along with the planet's rotation. They will replace the military's aging Milstar constellation.
A secondary payload — a small cubesat — will hitch a ride to orbit with AEHF-5. The cubesat, which is also owned by the U.S. military, will separate from the rocket's upper stage before AEHF-5 and will test new orbital debris-tracking technologies, according to Space News.
- Jam-Resistant US Military Communications Satellite Lifts Off in Midnight-Hour Launch
- Atlas V Rocket Launches US Military Satellite and Experimental Spacecraft Into Orbit
- Atlas V to Launch Mars 2020 Rover