CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The newly established U.S. Space Force launched its first national security satellite Thursday with a leaner staff because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Nothing stops the space launch mission!” the 45th Space Wing tweeted from Cape Canaveral.
The approximately $1 billion satellite is the sixth and final one in the U.S. military’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency series. Upgraded from the older Milstar satellites, the constellation has provided secure communication from 22,000 miles (35,400 kilometers) up for nearly a decade.
A powerful Atlas V rocket hoisted the 13,600-pound (6,168 kilogram) satellite. The new Space Force seal adorned the United Launch Alliance rocket.
The Space Force officially became a new branch of the U.S. military in December.