An Atlas V rocket launched today from Cape Canaveral carrying a U.S. military satellite designed to improve ground communications for armed U.S. forces on the move. The rocket blasted off the launch pad at 8:04pm E.T. after earlier weather delays.
The launch marked the 52nd flight of the next generation Atlas rocket and marks the most liftoff power of any current U.S. rocket; the rocket needed 2.7 million pounds of thrust to deliver its payload into a 22,000 mile geosynchronous orbit.
The rocket contains a Russian built engine but the rocket is assembled in the U.S. Five additional booster rockets were added to the main rocket body to help provide the additional thrust.
The satellite is designed as part of newer network of additional satellites called MUOS which stands for Mobile User Objective System. Additional satellites will be added to help replace the military’s old UHF satellite communications system.