EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated with rollout photos.
A day-and-a-half before its liftoff with a U.S. Air Force communications satellite, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket rolled out to its launch pad at Cape Canaveral on Monday morning.
Set to fly in its most powerful configuration with five solid rocket boosters, the Atlas 5 arrived in the starting blocks at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad after a 1,800-foot (550-meter) journey from ULA’s nearby Vertical Integration Facility.
The Air Force’s fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency, or AEHF, communications satellite is fastened on top of the Atlas 5 rocket, inside a 17.7-foot-wide (5.4-meter) nose fairing. Built by Lockheed Martin with a Northrop Grumman-made nuclear-hardened secure communications payload, the AEHF 4 satellite will enable video, voice and data links between government leaders and military commanders.
The AEHF 4 spacecraft joins three previous AEHF satellites launched on Atlas 5 rockets in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
The 197-foot-tall (60-meter) Atlas 5 rocket is set for liftoff in a two-hour window opening at 12:15 a.m. EDT (0415 GMT) Wednesday.
More photos of the Atlas 5’s rollout are posted below.
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