October 28, 2021

Photos: Atlas 5 blasts off with U.S. Air Force communications payload


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A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral on Aug. 8 with the U.S. Air Force’s fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite, the second launch from Florida’s Coast in a span of less than 35 hours.

The 197-foot-tall (60-meter) Atlas 5 launcher lifted off from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:13 a.m. EDT (1013 GMT) on Aug. 8. The Atlas 5’s kerosene-fueled first stage RD-180 engine and five strap-on solid rocket motors produced some 2.6 million pounds of thrust to propel the launcher off the pad.

Around five-and-a-half hours later, the rocket’s Centaur upper stage deployed the Lockheed Martin-built AEHF 5 satellite into a high-energy geostationary transfer orbit. AEHF 5 will join four similar jam-resistant, secure voice, video and data relay satellites in the military’s fleet.

The Atlas 5 launch occurred less than 35 hours after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off from a neighboring launch pad at Cape Canaveral, the shortest span between orbital launches from Florida’s Space Coast since 1981.

These photos were captured by remote cameras at the Atlas 5 launch pad.

Read our full story for details on the mission. See our earlier photo gallery showing the Atlas 5’s picturesque climb into space at dawn.

Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: United Launch Alliance
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now
Credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now

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