CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A military satellite for the U.S. Navy designed to increase mobile communications for the military world wide was successfully placed into Earth orbit on Friday following its launch from America's Space Coast.
The fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) spacecraft will serve as a spare and complete the high quality mobile communications constellation used by troops on the move around the globe. Acting as a massive cell tower in space, the military is using MUOS to connect with isolated troops unavailable by other other transmittable means.
"MUOS 5 is identical to (past) MUOS, and keeping a spare is all part in ensuring that the MUOS capabilty we are delivering will be around for the next 10-plus years," said Commander Peter Sheehy of U.S. Navy Communications Satellite Program Office minutes following the launch. "Launches like what we experienced today require month and months of preparation and that's something we don't want to wait for, and that's why we keep an on-orbit spare."
Lift-off of MUOS 5 occurred on time at 10:30 a.m. EDT, on June 24, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As the countdown reached zero, the launch pad's ground umbilical and hold down posts broke free allowing the powerful United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket to carry the spacecraft toward orbit.
Powered by five solid fuel boosters and a liquid fuel main engine, the Atlas 5 thundered into the blue skies and eastward out over the Atlantic waters. Nearly two minutes later, the nearly 200-foot rocket dropped its spent boosters while its RD-180 core engine continued to burn.