WASHINGTON — Officials at the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center said that despite recent delays, they expect an anti-jamming communications satellite to launch as early as Aug. 8
The satellite in question is the fifth satellite in the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system, a constellation that will ultimately be composed of six satellites providing highly robust, anti-jamming satellite communications for the military and high priority national leaders. The first AEHF was launched back in 2010. Lockheed Martin is the program’s prime contractor.
The satellite was slated to be launched into orbit from Florida June 27, but was delayed after a vehicle battery failure was found on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to carry AEHF-5 into orbit. The launch was then rescheduled for July 17, giving the technical time to analyze the problem and replace the battery. But less than a week before the launch, it was delayed again “due to an anomaly during component testing at a supplier which has created a cross-over concern.”
“During final acceptance testing of the component, the support equipment measured off-nominal voltage. The team is reviewing the data and inspecting the hardware to determine root cause,” Heather McFarland, a spokewoman for ULA, told C4ISRNET.
The launch has been rescheduled for Aug. 8.
Officials at the Space and Missile Systems Center said there will be no impacts on the program if the satellite is launched in August, although they didn’t say whether further delays would have an impact.
“There are no impacts through the month of August. The spacecraft is in a safe environment on the Atlas V,” the center said in a statement.
The Space and Missile Systems Center also said on-orbit test teams have been aligned to the new schedule created by the delay, and since there was no set date for the Air Force taking over the satellite, that action by definition can’t be pushed back. They also noted that this delay would not affect the launch of AEHF 6, which has not been scheduled yet.
The launch window for the rocket carrying AEHF 5 is now set for 5:44-7:44 a.m. on Aug. 8.