Air Force To Launch Communications Relay Satellite

The U.S. Air Force announced April 6 that it plans to launch a new communications-relay satellite as part of a multi-payload mission later this month.

The Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM (CBAS) satellite, which is intended for geosynchronous orbit, will continuously relay data from existing military communications satellites to support senior leaders and combatant commanders, Air Force Space Command's (AFSPC's) Space and Missile System Center (SMC) said in a statement. 

A launch of an Atlas V rocket. Photo: United Launch Alliance

A launch of an Atlas V rocket. Photo: United Launch Alliance

CBAS will ride aboard AFSPC-11, which is slated to lift off on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in mid-April. Testing to prepare CBAS for the launch was finished March 15.

AFSPC-11 will also include the new EAGLE satellite, which is designed to carry up to six payload experiments.

One of the experiments on AFSPC-11 will be a satellite called Mycroft that will be able to fly away from EAGLE, SMC said. The others will detect and analyze threats in space, such as man-made disturbances, space weather events or collisions with small meteorites.

AFSPC-11 “will allow the Air Force to experiment with innovative techniques while creating unique training opportunities for space operators,” an Air Force spokesman said.

In 2012, Orbital Sciences Corp., now Orbital ATK [OA], received a $32 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop EAGLE, which stands for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) Augmented Geosynchronous Laboratory Experiment.

AFSPC-11 will be the 77th launch of the Atlas 5 since the rocket's first launch in 2002.

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