By Marina Malenic

The launch of the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite from Cape Canaveral, Fla., was delayed by 10 days to perform more confidence testing on a launch vehicle component associated with releasing the fairing support structure, the Air Force said July 14.

“Processing on both the launch vehicle and satellite continues nominally to a new launch date of 10 August,” the service’s Space and Missile Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif., said in a press statement. “This slip in the AEHF-1 launch is not expected to impact other launches in the manifest.”

Last week, the Air Force discovered and began fixing a timing problem found on a Minotaur IV launch vehicle that delayed a planned July 8 launch for the Space Based Space Surveillance Satellite (SBSS). That launch has not yet been rescheduled.

Prime contractor Lockheed Martin [LMT] has delivered the first satellite in the AEHF program, SV-1, to Cape Canaveral, where it is undergoing preparations for liftoff aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle.

The AEHF system is designed to provide the military and U.S. officials with protected, high capacity and secure communications. The system is the successor to the five- satellite Milstar constellation and is expected to provide improved service. A single AEHF satellite can provide greater total capacity than the entire Milstar constellation currently on orbit, and individual user data rates can be up to five times higher than Milstar’s highest speed.

The second AEHF spacecraft, SV-2, has completed a test that verified all spacecraft interfaces, demonstrated full functionality and evaluated satellite performance and is now preparing for testing to ensure the spacecraft is ready for flight.

The third satellite, SV-3, has completed acoustic testing. SV-2 and SV-3 are on track for launch readiness in 2011, according to the Air Force and Lockheed Martin.

Northrop Grumman [NOC] Aerospace Systems, Redondo Beach, Calif., is the payload provider. Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to provide three AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment. The program has begun advanced procurement of long-lead components for a fourth AEHF satellite.