The fifth Atlas V Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite launch has been indefinitely delayed because of the continuing investigation into the previous launch, provider United Launch Alliance (ULA) said Friday.

Originally scheduled to take place on May 5 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., MUOS-5 is the final unit in the Navy’s new constellation of satellites for beyond-the-line-of-sight communication. MUOS is replacing the Ultra High Frequency Follow-On Systems constellation and is designed to offer over 10 times greater communications capability.

Air Force spokeswoman Alicia Garges said Monday a formal investigation team, led by the FAA, has been established to investigate the March 22 mission.  The Air Force, she said, is closely monitoring this investigation to understand the closure plan and way ahead.

Artist's rendering of a Navy Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite. Photo: Lockheed Martin
Artist’s rendering of a Navy Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite.
Photo: Lockheed Martin

Although the last Atlas V launch, carrying Orbital ATK’s [OA] Cygnus spacecraft (OA-6) for a NASA resupply mission the International Space Station (ISS) on March 22, was successful (Defense Daily, March 23), the system experienced a premature first stage shutdown six seconds early, ULA said in a statement last month.

The Centaur upper stage compensated for this issue by burning longer, but ULA is still evaluating the anomaly that caused the fault, the company said.

Until the launch occurs, the MUOS-5 spacecraft and launch vehicle are secure at their processing facilities, ULA said.

Contractor ULA produces the Atlas V and has carried out previous launches. ULA is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Boeing [BA]. The MUOS satellites are developed and built by Lockheed Martin.