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ULA Launches Its Most Powerful Atlas V Rocket From Cape Canaveral

This view of Wednesday's Atlas V launch was taken from the nearby Space Launch Complex 37, the Delta IV rocket’s East Coast home at Cape Canaveral. Photo: ULA

An Atlas V rocket launched a high-tech communication satellite for the military from Cape Canaveral.

Just after midnight Wendesday, the rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 41 carrying the Air Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

The satellite, designed by Lockheed Martin and launch by United Launch Alliance, will provide the military leaders with encrypted and jam-proof communications in some of the most harrowing of situations, including the ability to send and receive data through electro-magnetic interference caused by nuclear weapons.

It is the most powerful version of ULA’s Atlas V rocket, dubbed the 551, with more that two and a half million pounds of thrust at liftoff. The Atlas V 511 has sent science missions like New Horizons to Pluto and beyond, and set Juno on a mission to Jupiter.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »