Breaking News
More () »

First U.S. Space Force satellite launches aboard ULA Atlas V rocket

After working through a technical issue at the top of the launch window, the rocket blasted off Thursday afternoon from Florida's east coast.
United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket is transported to the pad at Launch Complex 41 with the GOES-S weather satellite on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Photo: United Launch Alliance)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Another reason to head outside and look up Thursday afternoon: There was a rocket launching from Florida's east coast.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) used an Atlas V rocket to carry a satellite into space for the U.S. Space Force. ULA said these Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites provide secure communications for the country's military operations in the air, land and sea.

This was the sixth of such satellite to be launched into space, and the first officially deployed under Space Force. The first five satellites were launched under the U.S. Air Force.

This launch marked the 83rd Atlas V mission since the first in 2002. 

The launch window opened at 2:57 p.m. though a technical issue had the rocket holding on the ground before launching less than an hour before the window closed.

While public viewing at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral has been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, ULA had a live broadcast of the launch on its website.

The chief executive of United Launch Alliance, the rocket maker, says non-essential workers were barred from the launch control room to reduce the size of the crowd. 

Chief Tory Bruno says surfaces were cleaned to guard against coronavirus, but it wasn't possible to keep all staff 6 feet apart.

RELATED: Atlas V rocket launches Solar Orbiter to study the sun

RELATED: Rocket launch lights up sky over Tampa Bay

Below: Watch a previous Atlas V rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

RELATED: Space Force encounters first adversary: a pair of suspicious Russian spacecraft

RELATED: Florida aerospace leaders still pushing for Space Force headquarters

What other people are reading right now: