Third AEHF makes final preparations before launch
The USAF has announced that it has transported its third Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Stations (CCAFS) ahead of its scheduled launch.
Lockheed Martin, the main contractor for the AEHF project, delivered the satellite on 11 July in partnership with the USAF aboard a C-5 Galaxy aircraft. It will now undergo final preparations before launch, which is scheduled for September 2013, a Los Angeles Air Force Base (LA AFB) statement announced.
The next several months will see the satellite encapsulated to the rocket’s payload fairing, and the satellite will be integrated with the United Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle, at CCAFS’s Launch Complex 41.
The first AEHF joint service satellite was launched from CCAFS in August 2010. The second was launched in May 2012 and completed on orbit testing in November of that year.
‘The AEHF satellites on orbit and those planned for launch will play a pivotal role in our national security for years to come,’ Dave Madden, Director of the Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate, said at the time of the second AEHF on orbit testing.
With the success of the first two and a third preparing for launch, the fourth AEHF is set to launch some time in 2017, it was reported by LA AFB.
Lockheed Martin secured a contract for the fifth and sixth AEHFs in January 2013, under a $1.94 billion fixed-price contract. They will be assembled at the Lockheed Martin Sunnyvale facility in California.
The AEHF systems’ primary function is to provide near-worldwide, secure and survivable satellite communications. It will provide jam-resistant satellite communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets to the US government and international partners, including Canada, the Netherlands and the UK.
The AEHF satellites provide five times faster data rates and twice as many connections as the Milstar Satellite, according to Lockheed Martin. The five-satellite Milstar constellation has surpassed 63 years of combined successful operations.
The AEHF team is led by: the USAF Satellite Communications Systems Wing at the Space and Missile Systems Center; Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, the AEHF prime contractor and system manager; and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, as the payload provider.
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