5 May 2012
The United States Air Force has launched an advanced communications satellite, the second in a new satellite network designed to improve U.S. ability to control its military forces around the globe, the Space.com online portal reported.
An Atlas 5 rocket carrying the Advanced Extremely High Frequency 2 (AEHF 2) satellite on board blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 2:42 pm local time (18:42 GMT) on Friday.
The $1.7-billion satellite is part of the AEHF network, which could ultimately include up to six spacecraft. The system is a follow-on to the U.S. military's current Milstar system of five satellites, the first of which was launched in 1994.
The spacecraft is expected to reach its designated orbit, about 22,300 miles (36,000 kilometers) up, within approximately three months.
The launch was originally scheduled for May 3, but was postponed because of a flow problem in one of the Atlas 5's systems, the report said.
The first AEHF satellite was launched in August 2010, but didn’t reach orbit until October 2011, some 11 months behind schedule, because of a problem with its propulsion system.