An Atlas V 431 operated by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully operated a launch offered by the Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services (LMCLS) to orbit the EchoStar 19/Jupiter 2 communications satellite. Lift off took place from the Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida at 1913 GMT on 18 December 2016. The launch had been delayed by about half an hour due to an issue with launch vehicle software.
The satellite which is owned by the Hughes Network Systems subsidiary of EchoStar, will use “bent-pipe” Ka-band technology to offer broadband mobile internet connectivity across the USA.
The launch contract with LMCLS was signed in 2015 after the satellite found that the Arianespace launch schedule meant that it could not make an originally planned Ariane 5 launch in the timeline it needed. The spacecraft whose launch mass was well above 6.5 metric tons was constructed by SSL (Space Systems/Loral). The launch used a super-synchronous transfer orbit with an apogee about 29,000km further than that of a Geostationary Earth Orbit (the final destination for the satellite). This high apogee helps the satellite remove any orbital inclination after the launch, before this apogee is lowered and the perigee raised.