ULA Ready for Nightime Liftoff of USAF AEHF-4 National Security Relay Comsat Oct 17 on Mighty Atlas V: Pad Photos, Watch Live

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-4 milcomsat for
the U.S. Air Force
is poised
for midnight liftoff to GTO on Oct. 17, 2018 at 12:15 a.m. ET from
Space Launch
Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on a national security mission
. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken Kremer 
  
SpaceUpClose.com     16 October 2018
CAPE CANAVERAL
AIR FORCE STATION, FL
  All systems are GO for tonights post midnight
liftoff of the jam resistant AEHF-4 military communications satellite for the
U.S. Air Force on Wednesday, October 17 on the most powerful version of the
venerable Atlas V rocket manufactured by
rocket builder United Launch
Alliance (ULA).
The blast off is sure to spectacularly beautiful and
spectacularly loud as this mightiest variant of the ULA Atlas V is soaring from
the Florida with a walloping 2.7 million pounds of thrust augmented by five add
on solid rocket boosters and near perfect weather conditions making for lengthy
viewing opportunities as the rocket arcs over to Africa. 



ULA will
fly their workhorse Atlas V rocket in the commanding 551 configuration to
launch the secure AEHF-4 milsatcom for Air Force Space Command shortly after
midnight on October 17 at 12:15 a.m. EDT
(0415 GMT) from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.



Check our
my gallery of up close launch pad photos for Space UpClose during our media
camera setup opportunity this afternoon. 

Up close view of the RUAG space nose cone atop the ULA Atlas V rocket housing the AEHF-4 milcomsat for the U.S. Air Force poised for midnight liftoff to GTO on Oct. 17,
2018 at 12:15 a.m. ET from
Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
Florida on a national security mission
. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The 551 configuration includes a LOX & RP-1 kerosene-fueled
common core booster, a five
-meter-diameter payload fairing built by RUAG
Space, five first stage strap-on solid rocket motors and a single engine LOX
& LH2 fueled Centaur upper stage. 



The Atlas V will deliver AEHF-4 to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO)
on a specialized trajectory to minimize the spacecrafts subsequent orbit adjusting
maneuvers. 



“Interesting
trajectory tonight,” tweeted ULA CEO Tory Bruno.
 



“All
our orbits are customized. This is a GTO, but we will coast for several hours
out to apogee and then do a major lift of the perigee. This will leave the
spacecraft with only a small amout of remaining energy to add in order to
circularize.” 


A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-4 milcomsat for
the U.S. Air Force
is poised
for midnight liftoff to GTO on Oct. 17, 2018 at 12:15 a.m. ET from
Space Launch
Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on a national security mission
. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The 197-foot-tall ULA Atlas V rocket journeyed 1,800 feet (1/3
mile) to pad 41 yesterday morning Monday Oct. 15 as it was pushed by two
trackmobiles from the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) to the Space Launch
Complex 41 pad on the Florida Space Coast.



The launch countdown
will begin today, Tuesday Oct. 16 at 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT). 



If all goes well liftoff
happens nearly seven hours later just after midnight at 12:15 a.m. EDT (0415
GMT) on Wednesday, Oct. 17.



The launch window extends for two hours until
2:25 a.m. EDT (0615 GMT).



ULA plans live countdown updates at their
countdown page starting Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. EDT. 



The live ULA webcast of the launch Tuesday begins
at 11:55 p.m. EDT about 20 minutes before planned liftoff and will be viewable
on the ULA Home Page. 

The ULA Webcast is available at:
 


The weather forecast
is currently quite good with an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions at
launch time.
 

AEHF-4 is the fourth communications satellite in the Advanced
Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) series for U.S. Air Force
Space Command.

AEHF-4 counts as the
newest and most advanced US Air Force jam-resistant protected military
communications satellite, and will play a vital role in U.S. national security.


A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-4 milcomsat for
the U.S. Air Force
is poised
for midnight liftoff to GTO on Oct. 17, 2018 at 12:15 a.m. ET from
Space Launch
Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on a national security mission
. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

AEHF provides survivable,
global, highly secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for
high-priority military ground, sea, and air assets,
between
U.S. national leadership [meaning the President] and deployed military forces,
says USAF Space Command.

The AEHF constellation “provides 10
times the throughput and a substantial increase in coverage compared to the
1990s-era Milstar satellites” that it replaces and are currently in
orbit. 

The satellite was built by
prime contractor Lockheed Martin at the satellite integration facility in
Sunnyvale, California, based on the A 2100 series communications satellite
spacecraft model and has a mass of some 6100 kg (13600 pounds).

“AEHF-4 delivery and launch
marks a significant milestone in fulfilling our communication commitment to the
highest priority Department of Defense ground, sea, and air missions. 
It’s an important asset for the warfighter and will be employed for years to
come,” said Lt.  Gen. John Thompson, Space and Missiles Systems Center
commander and Air Force program executive officer for space, in a statement.


The encapsulated
satellite rolled out from a Titusville processing facility to its Cape
Canaveral launch pad in the dead of night Friday Oct. 5 for integration with
the mighty United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that will propel it to
geostationary orbit (GEO) on October 17.

Advanced Extremely High Frequency-4 (AEHF-4)
jam-resistant national security military communications satellite for U.S. Air
Force Space Command is encapsulated in 5 meter RUAG Space payload fairing as it
rolls overnight Oct. 5, 2018 with convoy from Astrotech processing facility,
Titusville, FL on public highways to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for
upcoming night launch Oct. 17, 2018 on most powerful variant of United Launch
Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Check out my eyewitness gallery of Space UpClose photos as I
observed the AEHF-4 convoy travel along public locations on Rt. 405 towards the
Cape – here and in our earlier story.

AEHF-4 jam-resistant national security
milsatcom for USAF Space Command is encapsulated in 5-m RUAG payload fairing as
it convoys overnight Oct. 5, 2018 from Astrotech processing facility,
Titusville, FL on public highways to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for
upcoming night launch Oct. 17, 2018 on most powerful variant ULA Atlas V
rocket.  Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

This will be 131st mission for ULA since the
company was founded in 2006 and the 50th launch for the Air Force. It is the
79th for an Atlas V rocket and the 9th in the 551 configuration.

Watch for Ken’s
continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin,
Orbital ATK and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space
Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility,
Virginia.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science
and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research
scientist and journalist based in the KSC area.

………….

Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and space outreach events

Ken’s upcoming space outreach events/photos for
sale:




Oct 16-17:  Learn more about the Soyuz abort and
upcoming/recent ULA/USAF AEHF-4 milsatcom, NASA/ULA Parker Solar Probe, SpaceX
Merah Putih & Telstar 18 & 19 launches, SpaceX Falcon 9/CRS-15 launch to
ISS,  Falcon Heavy, NASA TESS, GOES-S, NASA missions, ULA Atlas &
Delta launches, SpySats and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events
at
Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings. Photos for
sale









Speed boat races by after United Launch Alliance
(ULA) Atlas V rocket with the AEHF-4 milcomsat for the U.S. Air Force rolled from
the VIF to launch pad at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, Florida, on Oct. 15, 2018 for Oct. 17 liftoff
. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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