Early this morning at 12:15 am EDT United Launch Alliance successfully delivered the AEHF-4 satellite for the United States Air Force.
Using the most powerful version of their Atlas V rocket with a single RD-180 engine and five strap-on solid boosters the rocket soared into the air for an on-time launch.
The Advanced Extremely High Frequency 4 (AEHF-4) satellite was deployed to a geostationary transfer orbit, the satellite is designed to withstand an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and provides jam-resistant, encrypted communications to air force terminals around the world.
This was the 8th launch for 2018 and 131st consecutive successful launch for ULA
SpaceX continued their 2018 launch campaign with the successful deployment of the Merah Putih communications satellite for Telkom Indonesia this morning.
The 5000 kg satellite was successfully deployed to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit and is now making its way to its operating orbit.
This was the first reflight for a Block 5 Falcon 9 booster which was previously used in May to launch Bangladesh’s Bangabandhu-1 satellite. Following successful stage separation the booster landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship, Of Course I Still Love You.
This was the 60th flight of Falcon 9, 13th with flight proven booster and the 28th landing.
After several delays originally for the static fire test and then the weather SpaceX successfully completed its third launch of 2017 this morning with the delivery of the EchoStar 23 payload to orbit. Liftoff occurred at 02:00 with the ignition of the nine Merlin 1D engines that propelled the towards orbit. 35 minutes later confirmation of payload separation was posted by SpaceX.
SpaceX successfully launched the JCSAT 14 satellite this week for SKY Perfect JSAT, and once again landed the Falcon 9 first stage on the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You”.
Unlike the landing during the CRS-8 mission this was more complicated due to the speed of the first stage booster at separation. According to a SpaceX spokesperson during the live broadcast the stage was travelling twice as fast. This required that three of the engines be used for the landing burn instead of the one previously.
During the broadcast it almost looked like the first stage had crashed into OCISLY but once the smoke cleared and the lights on the drone ship came on it was clear that the stage was sitting almost in the center of the landing zone. This is the third landing of the Falcon 9 first stage and as Elon Musk tweeted they are going to need to find more space if they keep this going.
May need to increase size of rocket storage hangar