US Space Force launches first mission despite coronavirus

US Space Force to Launch AEHF-6 for Protected SATCOMs

Watch ULA’s first dedicated rocket launch for the U.S. Space Force live

"In the days, weeks, and months to come, we'll be following the advice of the government and health authorities to protect our teams in the United States and New Zealand". That's the new space-focused arm of the US military that was officially formed a year ago, in response to what the administration has characterized as a growing need to ensure America's assets in space are properly defended.

The rocket carrying the satellite is an Atlas V, and the mission looks good to proceed as of Thursday morning in terms of both weather and systems checks.

The U.S. Space Force will be launching the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) Satellite aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral tonight at 12:27 am IST.

Atlas V rocket is prepared to launch today, March 26th, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United Launch Alliance has announced. "This launch extends that communication into a timeframe beyond 2030".

Built by Lockheed Martin, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) family of satellites is created to provide constant, protected communications services for USA warfighters on the ground, sea and air. The other five AEHF satellites were sent into orbit by Atlas V rockets between 2010 and 2019.

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The actual satellite deployment will occur roughly five hours after liftoff, and ULA won't be airing that since they typically don't with any national defense-related missions.

'Nothing stops the space launch mission!' the 45th Space Wing tweeted from Cape Canaveral, Florida during the launch of the $1 billion satellite.

"I'm especially proud of our military professionals who continue to ensure that the vital space systems remain operational in support of our nation", Raymond said in a video tweeted out by the Space Force on Friday. The satellites have an upgraded anti-jamming capability.

Thursday's launch provided some rare action for space fans in these unusual lockdown days.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated byKarl Tate), a book about the search for alien life.

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