Powerful Atlas V Launches Enormous Navy Satellite

MUOS-4 Launch An Atlas V rocket carrying the MUOS-4 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41.

With five solid rocket motors and its RD-180 main engine generating 2.5 million pounds of earth-shaking liftoff thrust, an Atlas V rocket lit up the pre-dawn Florida sky Wednesday morning on its way to delivering the fourth Mobile User Objective System satellite to orbit for the United States Navy.

The Atlas V lifted off at 6:18 a.m. ET after a short delay in the count for a ground system issue. The launch had been delayed two days to allow the remnants of tropical storm Erika to clear out of the area.

The rocket flew in the 551 configuration, the most powerful available, which was needed to loft the 15,000-pound satellite.

“Thanks to the Atlas V and MUOS teams for weathering the storm and staying focused on ensuring another successful national security launch,” said Randy Kendall, Aerospace vice president of Space Launch Operations, reporting from the Cape. “This fourth MUOS satellite will complete the MUOS network, which provides significantly enhanced secure tactical communications capability for our mobile military forces around the globe.”

The Wednesday liftoff marked the 56th Atlas V launch and the 99th launch by United Launch Alliance since the company was formed in December, 2006.