Kremer — SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM – 8 August 2019
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – An absolutely
otherworldly and utterly rare ‘Space Jellyfish’ was spawned in the twilight
skies this morning Thursday, Aug. 8 by a mesmerizingly awesome launch of a mighty
ULA Atlas V rocket carrying a critical military comsat for the nations
warfighters – namely the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency
(AEHF-5) communications satellite – as it streaked to orbit for the U.S.
Air Force that will provide secure
jam-resistant military relay communications for US
troops across the globe during peacetime and in war in case of a nuclear
Furthermore, the ULA Atlas V AEHF-5 blastoff
and streak skywards to geostationary orbit certainly counts as one of the most
beautiful and thrilling launches ever witnessed from the Florida Space Coast –
everyone unanimously agreed!
it only came about after a nearly 30 minute hold to resolve several technical
glitches and relentlessly increasing daylight at twilights dawn threatened to
obliterate our view of the gorgeous ‘Space Jellyfish’ – which is only seen near
sunrise and sunset as the rocket rises into daylight and the exhaust plume particles and ice crystal are illuminated.
20-story tall ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the $1.2 Billion Lockheed Martin
built AEHF-5 military satcom mission for the U.S. Air Force Space Command finally
lifted off from seaside Space Launch Complex-41, Thursday, Aug. 8 at 6:13 a.m.
EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.
Atlas V roared off pad 41 with 2.6 million pounds of liftoff thrust and put on
a most spectacular sky show into near cloudless skies and picture perfect
condition that allowed us to see the birth and growth of the stunning space
Enjoy our expanding Space UpClose launch and
launch pad gallery of photos/videos of
the Atlas V rocket launch and our media camera setup
opportunity Wednesday afternoon – which was nearly scrubbed by the terrible weather
and phase 2 lightning condition.
Complete success for the mission would not be
known and assured for nearly six hours as the Atlas V rockets Centaur upper
stage fired for a total of three orbit raising and adjustment burns.
The final Centaur firing took place some 5
hours and 36 minutes after liftoff with AEHF-5 spacecraft separation planned
for 5 hours and 40 minutes after liftoff.
The 6.7 ton satellite will now undergo three months
of further orbit raising and another month of on-orbit testing.
successfully separated from the launch vehicle upper stage approximately 5
hours and 40 minutes after liftoff and will now undergo approximately 97 days
of orbit-raising operations, followed by approximately 30 days of on-orbit
testing,” the Air Force Space and Missiles Systems Center confirmed in a
joins and expands the existing constellation of four nuclear-hardened AEHF Space
Command satellites already operating in
geostationary orbit 22,300 miles (36000 kilometers) above Earth to five –
from past Atlas V deliveries for the U.S.
Air Force – that already provide the most secure voice,
video and data links connecting U.S
national security commanders up to the President with troops deployed in the
Eventually a constellation of six is planned to be completed next
“We are proud of the tremendous efforts by
the combined ULA, Lockheed Martin, Aerospace and government team in making this
launch such a success,” said Mr. Don Ruffin, SMC’s Strategic SATCOM division
chief, in a statement.
“The satellite is healthy and operating as
expected. We have now turned our attention to maneuvering it into its final
orbital location over the next several months and look forward to many years of
service in providing critical communications capabilities to our warfighters
around the world.”
AEHF-5 is the fifth communications satellite in the Advanced
Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) series for U.S. Air Force Space Command.
AEHF-5 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.
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.
times the throughput and a substantial increase in coverage compared to the
1990s-era Milstar satellites” that it replaces and are currently in
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).
The AEHF constellation also provides protected
satellite communications for American allies including Canada, United Kingdom,
Netherlands and Australia.
cost of the Lockheed Martin built AEHF-5 satellite years in the making and
critical for U.S. national security and our troops is about $1.1 Billion.
The prior satellite in the AEHF constellation
namely AEHF-4 launched on a ULA Atlas 551 vehicle in Oct. 2018. See our Space
ULA fly their
workhorse Atlas V rocket in the commanding 551 configuration to launch the
secure AEHF-5 milsatcom for Air Force Space Command.
The 551 configuration includes a LOX & RP-1 kerosene-fueled
common core booster, a five-meter-diameter payload fairing (PLF) built by
RUAG Space. The Atlas V first
stage booster for this mission was powered by the twin nozzle RD AMROSS RD-180
engine and five first stage strap-on Aerojet
Rocketdyne AJ-60A solid rocket motors and a single engine LOX & LH2 fueled
Centaur upper stage powered by the RL10C-1 engine.
A United Launch
Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the AEHF-5 milcomsat for the U.S. Air Force is poised for twilight liftoff to GTO on Aug.
8, 2019 at 5:44 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 Atlas V delivered AEHF-5 to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO)
on a specialized trajectory to minimize the spacecrafts subsequent orbit adjusting
the successful delivery of AEHF-5 to orbit this marks will be 134th successful
mission for ULA since the company was founded in 2006 and the 50th launch for
the Air Force maintaining a 100% success rate. It
is the 80th for an Atlas V rocket and the 10th in the 551 configuration.
Atlas V rockets successfully launched the
first four AEHF satellites in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2018.
featured on local Channel 13 Spectrum TV News and the Front Page of Florida
Dr. Ken Kremer/Space UpClose post launch interview with Spectrum
News 13 about ULA Atlas V AEHF-5 military comsat launch Aug. 8, 2019. Screenshot:
Ken Kremer/Spectrum 13
Dr. Ken Kremer/Space UpClose post launch interview
on Florida Today front page Aug. 9, 2019 about ULA Atlas V AEHF-5 launch Aug. 8,
next Atlas V launch will be the first uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) of the
Boeing Starliner commercial crew vehicle.
launch date has been announced but could be as soon as late September or October.
it could come about 4 to 6 weeks after this Atlas, as ULA can now process and stack
the next Atlas former NASA astronaut and current Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson
told me recently.
Ken is onsite at the Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station for live reporting of the ULA AEHF-5 mission launch.
Watch for Ken’s
continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin,
Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy
Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight
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, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Aug 8: Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL, evenings. Learn more about the upcoming/recent SpaceX AMOS-17, SpaceX Falcon 9/CRS-18 launch
to ISS, NASA Orion Ascent-2 Abort test
Falcon Heavy, NASA 2024
Moon landing goal, SpaceX Starlink-1, SpaceX Demo-1 launch/test failure, SpaceX Beresheet launch, NASA missions, ULA Atlas & Delta launches,
Northrop Grumman Antares, SpySats and more
Ken will display his photos for sale
Aug 30, 7 PM: Skyscrapers
Inc Astronomical Society, Seagrave
Memorial Observatory, 47 Peeptoad Road, North Scituate, Rhode Island:
“Exploring Mars and
the Search for life – 3D” – Learn all about NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover illustrated with Ken’s
custom created Mars rover panoramas from Curiosity, Spriit and Opportunity and up
close clean room and launch pad views. Free and open to public
imagery for sale to support his outreach