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U.S. Space Force launches first satellite

2020-03-27 19:34 by


The newly-established US Space Force has launched its first national security satellite, with a leaner staff because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday (March 26), a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched the sixth and final Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) military communications satellite to Earth orbit, acing the first-ever mission for the U.S. Space Force.

AEHF satellites have low bandwidth but are designed to keep providing communications capabilities against signal jamming or in extreme scenarios like nuclear war; the six in orbit will supposedly provide redundancy in the event another nation tries to shoot them down. Manufacturer Lockheed Martin says they are a major improvement on their predecessor, the 26-year-old Milstar system.

President Trump in February 2019 signed a directive to establish a new branch of the military dedicated to handling threats in space. With Congressional approval, the United States Space Force was established on Dec. 20. The sixth and youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has the authority to "organize, train, and equip military space forces to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces in peacetime and across the spectrum of conflict."

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