The U.S. Space Force officially launched its first rocket on Thursday, delivering a highly advanced communications satellite to orbit.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and carried the sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) satellite, Space.com reported.
— ULA (@ulalaunch) March 26, 2020
The final Lockheed Martin-built satellite in the AEHF constellation will help with communications between the U.S. leadership and deployed military forces.
If you could stand next to mighty Atlas at liftoff…
FULL VIDEO – https://t.co/Z1yC8J5t1S
STORY – https://t.co/AjO1PamAvQ
— AmericaSpace (@AmericaSpace) March 27, 2020
The launch was originally scheduled for March 13, but it was pushed back after an off-nominal valve reading occurred before the launch.
The hardware in question was removed and the launch rescheduled, according to Space.com.
Despite #COVID19, we’re READY to launch #AEHF6—our 1st Nat’l Security Space launch for the @SpaceForceDoD. Check out the official USSF seal on the #AtlasV at Cape Canaveral AFS. Proud of the great teamwork w/our mission partners @ulalaunch @LockheedMartin @AF_SMC @45thSpaceWing! pic.twitter.com/ZYS6jHHfdU
— Gen. Jay Raymond (@SpaceForceCSO) March 26, 2020
Space Force Commander Gen. Jay Raymond congratulated the team on a successful launch in a Thursday tweet.
“Congrats @ulalaunch on today’s successful launch of #AEHF6 — our 1st USSF Nat’l Security Space Launch!” he tweeted.
“On behalf of the @SpaceForceDoD & joint warfighters who depend on protected SATCOM…THANK YOU!”
All military commanders have been directed by the Pentagon to continue crucial missions during the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring the health and safety of their teams, 45th Space Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess told reporters on Tuesday.
“The Department of Defense’s priority is to continue the mission, so we’ll continue the mission,” Schiess said.
“I can’t see it happening where they would say, ‘Stop doing that.’ We may do more testing, more temperature testing, or something like that, but I think we have to have a significant population within the operations folks to be sick to have a situation where it would impact our launches.”
The launch teams have taken extra precautions by reducing staff to essential personnel and spreading work stations farther apart.
Public viewing areas near the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station were also closed due to the pandemic.
Instead of deploying soldiers in space, the new military branch operating under the Department of the Air Force will focus on national security and protecting U.S. assets in space.
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