WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MOUS)-2 satellite was delivered safely to its orbital drop-off point July 19 and is expected to spend the next eight days climbing to its operational orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator.

“#MUOS is in transfer orbit & responding to commands,” MOUS prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space Systems tweeted shortly after 12:00 p.m. EDT.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket carrying the second of the U.S. Navy’s new generation of mobile communications lifted off at 9:00 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. By 9:30 a.m., the Atlas 5 rocket’s Centaur upper stage had completed two of three scheduled burns. Just before noon, the Centaur’s Aerojet Rocketdyne RL-10 engine completed a final one-minute burn prior to deploying MUOS-2 into its geosynchronous transfer orbit, completing United Launch Alliance’s portion of the mission.

The satellite is expected to take eight days to maneuver into its geostationary orbit some 36,000 kilometers above the equator, Capt. Paul Ghyzel, the Navy’s MUOS program manager, said in a prelaunch conference call with reporters July 15. The Navy expects to declare MUOS-2 operational after a six-month check-out period.

#MUOS is in transfer orbit & responding to commands. Congrats @SPAWARHQ @USNavy @ulalaunch & team! http://t.co/dRcQKpTD3g

— Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin) July 19, 2013

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.