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Lockheed Martin prepares sixth AEHF satellite for launch

Stephen Kuper

The sixth Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) protected communications satellite is encapsulated in its protective fairings and mounted atop its rocket in preparation for its planned 26 March launch – the first such launch for the US Space Force.

Lockheed Martin prepares sixth AEHF satellite for launch
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The AEHF-6 satellite will bring additional capabilities and resilience to the constellation, which already ensures “always-on” communications and the ability to transmit data anywhere, anytime.

Once on orbit, AEHF-6 will complete the constellation, as well as mark the first launch under US Space Force control. AEHF-6 will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket in an Atlas V 551 configuration.

Mike Cacheiro, vice president for protected communications at Lockheed Martin, said, “While this is the final AEHF satellite launch, it really brings the constellation to full strength, capability and truly marks the beginning of the AEHF system’s full life cycle.”

AEHF-6 is part of the AEHF system – a resilient satellite constellation providing global coverage and a sophisticated ground control system. Together the constellation provides survivable, protected communications capabilities for national leaders and tactical warfighters operating across ground, sea and air platforms.

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The anti-jam system also serves international allies to include Canada, the Netherlands, UK and now Australia.

“Still, it is a bittersweet moment for everyone involved, knowing this is our last launch for the AEHF program. Myself, as well as all of the employees who have supported the program at Lockheed Martin, are incredibly grateful for our continued partnership with the US Space Force’s Space and Missiles Systems Centre,” Cacheiro added. 

Lockheed Martin developed and manufactured AEHF-6 at its satellite production facility located in Sunnyvale, California. In January, the satellite shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station courtesy of a Super Galaxy C-5 aircraft from the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the AEHF system, and the AEHF team is led by the Production Corps, Medium-Earth Orbit Division, at Space Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base.

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