Spaceflight Insider

ULA launches final AEHF satellite atop Atlas V

“Liftoff of Atlas V and AEHF-6”, from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-41. Photo Credit: Matt Haskell / SpaceFlight Insider

Blue skies and light winds – they were near perfect conditions for a Florida afternoon launch. With a nod to the current COVID-19 public health concerns which have the United Launch Alliance teams working carefully, with increased personal separation, President and CEO Tory Bruno tweeted “Mighty Atlas is standing alone on the pad. Very soon he will be social distancing away from us at more than 20,000 mph…”. And sure enough, at 4:18 PM EDT the United launch Alliance Atlas V rocket (551 configuration) launched from SLC – 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

AEHF-6 is skyward bound, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V (551) rocket, March 26, 2020. Photo: Theresa Cross / SpaceFlight Insider

Aboard the rocket was the final “Extremely High Frequency”, or AEHF satellite, set to complete the 6-part constellation. Built by Lockheed Martin, this military spacecraft will provide highly secure communication. Gary Wetz, Vice President of Government and Commercial Programs, United Launch Alliance, shared that “We are proud to launch the first national security space mission for the US space force and look forward to delivering the final AEHF asset to support our nation’s national defense in the warfighter community”. This marks the first national security space mission for the US Space Force and 138th launch for ULA. 

Also noteworthy from today’s mission was that the RL10 engine which powered the Centaur second stage, was the 500th flown production engine. Congratulations to the team!

Keep watching SpaceFlight Insider pages for a post featuring imagery from today’s launch at SLC-41.


Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines. Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations. Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.

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