Atlas V launches US Navy communications satellite

Washington DC
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A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V has successfully launched a communications satellite for the US Navy.

The rocket lifted off on 19 July from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, adjacent to NASA's main launch site. The launch went according to flight plan, and after two burns of the Centaur upper stage engine the satellite successfully reached geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), an elliptical holding orbit.

From there, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite will use its on onboard thrusters to propel itself into geostationary orbit.

The Atlas flew in 551 configuration, with a five-meter payload fairing, five solid rocket boosters and a single RL-10 engine in the Centaur upper stage.

The launch marks the 39th for the Atlas V launch vehicle, widely considered one of the most reliable launchers operating today.

Atlas V has been selected to launch two of the three crewed commercial resupply vehicles - Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser lifting body and Boeing's CST-100 capsule.

The satellite, the second of six in the MUOS constellation, replaces an older constellation of Ultra High Frequency (UHF)-band follow-on (UFO) satellites.