Monday, April 26, 2010

Air Force books ULA for 2012 Cape launch

United Launch Alliance today announced the award of a third contract to loft an advanced military targeting and communications satellite.

While the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency-3 satellite in the series will launch July 30 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, ULA announced a contract Monday to launch a third AEHF-3 satellite in 2012. The launch date for the second satellite in the series hasn’t been announced.

During a time of space industry cutbacks, the contract helps provide job stability for ULA's 705 employees at the Cape.

"We are anticipating between eight and 12 launches a year for the foreseeable future," ULA spokesman Michael Rein said. "We have not announced any layoffs for the coming months."

The $580 million satellite will weigh 14,500 pounds at launch and 9,000 pounds when it reaches a geosynchronous orbit at an altitude of 22,300 miles.

AEHF will provide 10 times greater capacity and data rates five times higher than that of the existing Milstar II communications satellites. This will allow higher data rates for transmission of tactical military communications such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data.

This satellite will be carried by an Atlas V (531) configuration using three Aerojet solid rocket motors, a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10A upper stage engine, a five-meter diameter upper stage and composite payload fairing.

In the last ULA launch, an Atlas rocket hauled a new military spaceplane into orbit April 22 from the Cape.

ULA is a joint venture between The Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. formed in 2006 as the primary launcher of U.S. government payloads, including missions run by the Department of Defense, NASA, National Reconnaissance Office and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

No comments: