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A United Launch Alliance (ULA) ATLAS V rocket carrying the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite for the US Space Force (USSF) lifted off from Cape Canaveral, FL, on 26 March – the first mission for the USSF.

The success of today’s launch is the culmination of years of dedication, hard work and teamwork with several of our mission partners,” said Gen Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, USSF. “From our acquisition experts at [Space & Missile Systems Center] to the satellite developers at Lockheed Martin, to the aircrews at Air Mobility Command, and our range support teams at the 45th Space Wing, we greatly appreciate the collaboration with the ULA team who all contributed to this historic, first National Security Space launch under the US Space Force.”

We understand the critical importance of delivering protected communications to strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air,” commented ULA President & CEO, Tory Bruno.

The ATLAS V 551 vehicle produced more than two and a half million pounds of thrust at liftoff. The most powerful in the ATLAS, this model features a 5m payload fairing and stands 197ft tall. The ATLAS booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the five AJ-60A solid rocket boosters and RL10C-1 engine for the CENTAUR upper stage. With the launch of AEHF-6, the RL10 engine has flown 500 times, including hundreds of times on ULA and ULA heritage vehicles.

Thank you to the Aerojet Rocketdyne team for your outstanding partnership,” stated Gary Wentz, ULA Vice President of Government and Commercial Programs. “The RL10 is integral to our unique CENTAUR upper stage, supporting ULA’s launches of military, civil and commercial satellites and has sent spacecraft to explore every planet in our solar system.”

The launch of AEHF-6 on 26 March represents the first national security mission for the newly-constituted US Space Force. (Image: ULA)

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