US Military Satellite launched by the Atlas V Rocket along with an Experimental Spacecraft


Two satellites of the U.S. Air Force was launched into orbit by Atlas V rocket on April 14th, Saturday. The new satellites were launched with the main purpose of improving the satellite communications of the U.S. military and as a latest model design of space vehicle.

The initial launch of the Atlas V rocket was from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force station at exactly 7:13 pm EDT. This Air Force Space Command mission of the U.S. is known by the name AFSPC-11 and has a satellite called CBAS (Continuous Broadcast Augmenting SATCOM) and an experimental demonstrator called the EAGLE (Augmented GEO Laboratory Experiment). The live video feed of the Atlas V was shut down by ULA, shortly after liftoff as per the procedure of U.S. military. The two satellites are said to separate from the Atlas V after 5 and half hours after lifting off and both the satellites will be launched to a geosynchronous orbit which is 35,786 km above the surface of the Earth. Both these satellites will be keeping watch over the same region of the Earth.

The main mission of the CBAS is to improve the existing communication capabilities of the military satellite and to continuously broadcast military data through relay links of satellite communications. The existing communications of the military satellite will be expanded by relaying the messages between commanders in combat and senior military officers.

Even though CBAS is the main highlight of the mission, an EAGLE satellite was also mounted beneath the satellite. EAGLE is a flight experiment program by the AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory) designed to demonstrate a space vehicle design based on maneuverable ESPA, which has the capacity to accommodate 6 deployable or hosted payloads in GEO. The experiments of EAGLE will provide better technologies to observe and find anomalies in space and characterize the micrometeorites collision events. One of the payloads of the EAGLE is Mycroft which will detach and fly 35 kilometers away from the EAGLE. The satellite will then come back and will be at a distance of 1 kilometer from its mother ship. This is done so in order to enhance navigation capabilities and space object characterization.

Mycroft will remain in the orbit for about 18 months and after that duration both the satellite and the mothership will be thrown away into a safe orbit, thus marking the end of the mission.