United Launch Alliance (ULA) has placed a US military communications satellite in orbit.

A Delta IV in medium-plus configuration was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, carrying the fifth Wideband Global Satellite Communications (WGS-5) satellite. The launch was declared successful by ULA and the US Air Force.

The Delta IV is powered by a Rocketdyne RS-68 core stage engine and RL-10 second stage engine. The successful launch marks the third for the Delta IVM+, and the 22nd for Delta IV overall. Medium-plus (M+) denotes the use of four solid rocket boosters, used to augment the RS-68 when carrying heavier loads.

The Boeing-built WGS satellites greatly expand existing capabilities, allowing greater control over bandwidth-intensive activities such as uploading high-definition video from reconnaissance aircraft, which have seen greatly increased use during wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other locations.

The sixth in the series has been delivered to the US Air Force for integration on to its launch vehicle, and the seventh is under construction.

Source: Flight International