The U.S. Air Force’s fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite, designed for secure, jam-resistant communications, is set for launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. These photos show the AEHF 5 satellite during encapsulation inside the Atlas 5’s payload shroud.
The AEHF 5 satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, will join four other satellites in the Air Force’s protecting communications network providing secure data, voice and video links to the military and government leaders.
The spacecraft weighs around 13,600 pounds (6,168 kilograms) fully fueled. The Atlas 5 rocket set to launch with the AEHF 5 satellite will fly in the “551” configuration — the most powerful Atlas 5 variant — with a 5.4 meter (17.7-foot) diameter payload fairing produced by Ruag Space and five solid rocket boosters from Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Ground crews at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California raised a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on its launch pad earlier this month in preparation for liftoff May 5 with NASA’s InSight lander heading to Mars.