First AEHF Satellite Finishes On-orbit Testing

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Lockheed Martin Space Systems has completed on-orbit testing of the U.S. Air Force’s first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) secure communications satellite more than a year-and-a-half after its launch, according to a company press release.

The on-orbit testing included establishing communications networks between terminals at various data rates, Lockheed Martin said in the Feb. 29 release. The completion of the milestone will make way for the satellite to be turned over to the 14th Air Force at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., according to the release.

AEHF-1 was launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket Aug. 14, 2010, but it did not reach geosynchronous orbit until Oct. 24, 2011. Its arrival to its operating position was delayed by an on-board propulsion glitch that forced the Air Force and Lockheed Martin to devise a new orbit-raising plan.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems is under contract to build four AEHF satellites, which are designed to provide assured and highly secure communications links under all conditions. The Air Force is expected to order two more AEHF satellites this year.