The newly inaugurated US Space Force had its first new satellite launched on 26 March. The AEHF 6 was launched at 2018 GMT from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, on a United Launch Alliance (ULA)-operated Atlas V in its 551 configuration. The AEHF 6 satellite will be used to provide secure, jam proof voice and data communications for the US, UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Australia military forces. This is the final AEHF satellite in its constellation.

Atlas V 551 launches AEHF-6 for US Space Force. Courtesy: ULA

The vehicle also carried the much smaller TDO 2 spacecraft which is a 12U cubesat carrying experimental payloads what will test optical calibration and satellite laser ranging technologies for space situational awareness. TDO 1 was sponsored by the US Air Force Research Laboratory and was developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology and integrated by the Parsons Corporation. The TDO 2 satellite was placed in a Geostationary Transfer Orbit and will remain there.

Post Script: Due to the Coronavirus and restrictions on travel, this launch is likely to be the last Western launch for some time. Russian Soyuz launches to the International Space Station due in April will continue from Baikonur, near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan. Apart from that, only China will be launching regularly.