A 20-story Atlas V rocket built by United Launch Alliance lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and carried a 15,000-pound communications satellite into orbit for the Navy.
The satellite was initially slated to blast off last week but was pushed back because of bad weather.
The spacecraft, part of the Mobile User Objective System, was launched at 2:15 p.m. Pacific time Friday from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape. Watch the launch here.
The new system, dubbed MUOS, will provide more than 10 times the capacity of the Navy’s current UHF Follow-On constellation, which provides communications for aircraft, ship, submarine and ground forces.
The mission was overseen by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which is based in San Diego. It was supported by the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing at Peterson AFB, Colo.
“The new MUOS constellation will bring a robust ‘communications on the move’ capability to the mobile war fighter,” Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton said in statement. “The entire government and contractor team worked together flawlessly to make this launch a success.”
Lockheed Martin Corp., maker of the satellite, promises simultaneous voice, video and data, leveraging 3G mobile communications technology for at least the next 15 years.
The company was awarded a $2.1-billion contract to build the first two satellites and associated ground control elements for the system in 2004.
In unrelated news, the Air Force confirmed Friday that it will conduct an unarmed operational test launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile at 2:01 a.m. Saturday from Vandenberg AFB, which is located northwest of Santa Barbara.