20 Jul 2013

Military communications satellite launched

5:46 pm on 20 July 2013

A communications satellite designed to provide voice and data services for US military forces around the world was launched on Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Atlas 5 rocket lifted off at 9am EDT from a launch pad just south of the Kennedy Space Center. It was built and is operated by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, is intended to eventually replace the US Navy's existing ultra-high frequency satellites, which have less capacity.

The first Mobile User Objective System satellite was launched in 2012; this is the second. The third is targeted to launch in 2014, followed by the fourth in 2015 and a fifth one after that. The aim of the network is to bring 3G-cellular technology to ships at sea, submarines, aircraft, land vehicles and troops in the field.

The new satellite will spend about eight days adjusting its orbit so that it circles about 35,888 kilometres above Earth.