A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 4:18 p.m. EDT (2018 GMT), following a delay of more than an hour to troubleshoot a ground hydraulics controller. The Atlas 5 launched with the U.S. military’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency strategic communications satellite.
The first launch of a U.S. Space Force mission since the establishment of the new military service is planned Thursday, when a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is set for liftoff from Cape Canaveral with a billion-dollar jam-resistant communications satellite designed to ensure national leaders remain connected with the armed forces.
The last unflown variant of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 launcher — fitted with a five-meter fairing and a single strap-on solid rocket booster — will carry a pair of U.S. military space surveillance satellites toward geosynchronous orbit from Cape Canaveral late this year, according to a Space Force spokesperson.
Under a brilliant moon, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket flashed to life and vaulted away from Cape Canaveral late Sunday, boosting the European Space Agency’s $1.5 billion Solar Orbiter probe out of Earth’s gravitational grip toward a multi-year voyage around the sun that will give scientists their first glimpse of the star’s poles.