International Launch Services launched an Atlas IIA from Cape Canaveral on 22 November, carrying the tenth ultra high frequency follow on (UFO) US Navy communications satellite supplied by Hughes Space and Communications.

It was the fourth Atlas launch from the Cape this year and the 45th consecutive successful Atlas flight, compared with 49 by Arianespace Ariane 4s.

Based on an HS-601 spacecraft bus, the UFO 10 is the third in the UFO fleet to carry an additional global broadcast service payload. This is designed to augment the satellite's traditional baseline narrowband UHF and protected EHF payloads.

The launch was the final one conducted as part of a $1.9 billion contract awarded to Hughes in 1988. The first UFO was launched in 1993. Hughes was awarded an additional $213 million contract on 15 November to build an eleventh UFO for launch in 2003.

The company is also one of four industry teams awarded study contracts, worth $700,000, to explore advanced satellite communications systems for the US Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to replace the UFOs.

Source: Flight International