The U.S. Air Force’s fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency spacecraft launched Wednesday from Cape Canaveral on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, expanding the reach of the military’s most secure, jam-resistant satellite communications network.
The 197-foot-tall (60-meter) Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad at 12:15 a.m. EDT (0415 GMT) Wednesday.
Five solid rocket boosters and a kerosene-fueled RD-180 main engine pushed the launcher into the sky with 2.6 million pounds of thrust, and the Atlas 5 steered east from Florida’s Space Coast over the Atlantic Ocean.
The launch marked the fifth Atlas 5 flight of the year, and the 79th launch of an Atlas 5 rocket since it debuted in August 2002. It was also the 17th space launch of 2018 from Cape Canaveral, a number that includes launches by ULA’s Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets, and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters.
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