User Testing Begins on Third AEHF Satellite
[Via Satellite 04-03-2014] The third Lockheed Martin-produced Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite has started transmitting via its protected communications payload. Along with two other satellites undergoing the system test in orbit, this satellite is a part of a United States Air Force program.
Launched in September 2013, the AEHF 3 began transmitting in January. The satellite will join its two predecessors, currently connected to Canada and the Netherlands, in order to increase capacity and coverage as international partners grow the user testing community. The United Kingdom is expected to connect with these satellites later this year.
“First transmissions on AEHF 3 were exactly what we expected, and orbit-raising was a textbook example of how to deliver a satellite to geostationary orbit,” said Mark Calassa, vice president of Protected Communication Systems at Lockheed Martin. “The satellite’s journey after launch went precisely as planned. We took advantage of the industry’s highest thrust electric propulsion, which was used during 95 percent of the transfer orbit period.”
As a hybrid spacecraft, AEHF uses both chemical and Hall Current Thruster electric propulsion to arrive at geostationary orbit. The satellite is also the most secure communications satellite system used by the U.S. government, with jam-proof communications resilient against enemy forces including nuclear attacks.