At 4:18 p.m. on March 26, Space Force launched its first satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, according to Popular Mechanics. Though the mission launch was first slated for 2:57 p.m., a poor amplifier card on a ground system pump controller caused the delay. The new military satellite designed by Lockheed Martin will provide protected communications to the U.S. military and national leaders.
Congrats @SpaceForceDoD on our 1st Nat’l Security Space mission of #AtlasV delivering #AEHF6! ????????A demonstration of the partnership, collaboration & exceptional dedication of @ulalaunch @LockheedMartin @SpaceForceDoD @AF_SMC @45thSpaceWing #ReadyUSSF pic.twitter.com/tnQgF2rZln
— Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett (@SecAFOfficial) March 26, 2020
The piece of machinery that caused the delay, a faulty hydraulic accumulator, serves to collect fluid which is kept under pressure to store energy. The issue was spotted with 46 seconds left to lift off. After the problem was resolved, the launch was able to go forward.
The new satellites will do more than offer safer communications between military officials and U.S. leaders. The upgrade will provide faster transmissions that will allow for better tactical communications. That includes real-time video between leaders and officials as well as a better ability to share targeting data and battlefield maps.
“The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system provides vastly improved global, survivable, protected communications capabilities for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms,” said Lockheed Martin Space Systems in a statement.
The AEHF satellites will soon replace the aging satellites that are currently orbiting in space. Those first Milstar communications satellites were launched in 1994, so the new AEHF satellites are a much-needed update for cybersecurity. Early AEHF satellites were launched 10 years ago and cost approximately $850 million per satellite.
President Donald Trump first launched Space Force, which focuses on warfare in space, in December 2019, according to the BBC. Space Force was originally billed as a sixth, independent branch of the military that was equal to the U.S. Air Force, though it has since been described as a segment of the Air Force. The new branch is the first addition to the U.S. military in 70 years. The Space Force, which received $40 million in funding for its first year, is meant to protect U.S. assets, including the many satellites used for communications and surveillance.
“Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. The Space Force will help us deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground,” Trump said as the BBC reported.
The advancement for the U.S. military in space arose after China and Russia took strides toward protecting themselves from far away. Since Space Force was first announced, President Putin has expressed concerns over a threat to Russian interests in space and that a response is in order. The Space Force tested its first missile test in February 2020.