THE first US Space Force mission since its establishment as a new military service is set to launch today.
It will see a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasting off with a billion-dollar jam resistant satellite onboard.
The satellite has been designed to make sure national leaders can stay in touch with the armed forces.
This will be the sixth and final Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite to be sent into orbit by the US.
Its destination is 22,000 miles above Earth.
Space Force was established as a US military service back in December and this is its first mission since.
The AEHF satellites, including those for military navigation and missile warnings, were previously looked after by the Air Force Space Command.
Colonel Robert Bongiovi is the AEHF 6 mission director and head of the launch enterprise office at the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center.
He said: "This AEHF 6 mission will be the first launch for the newly-established U.S. Space Force.
"My entire team is squarely focused on ensuring mission for this satellite to provide certain, secure communications for the nation and its leaders."
The coronavirus outbreak has affected rocket launches around the world but the team working on today's project are said to be practicing social distancing.
The 197-foot-tall Atlas 5 rocket is currently on its launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
It is set to blast off at around 14:57 EDT (1857 GMT) but will be given a two hour window.
There is an 80% that the weather will be favourable for a launch.
Military officials haven't revealed the geographic coverage area for AEHF 6.
It is intended to work for around 14 years.
The governments of Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK are now part of the AEHF program.
Terrifying space weapons of the future
Here are three of the scariest…
Rods from God
- A strange but utterly terrifying weapon has been dubbed "rods from the God" and is based on the concept of creating man-made meteorites that can be guided towards the enemy.
- Instead of using rocks rods the size of telephone poles are deployed.
- These would be made out of tungsten — a rare metal that can stand the intense heat generated by entering Earth's atmosphere.
- One satellite fires the rods towards the Earth's atmosphere while the other steers them to a target on the ground.
- Reaching speeds of 7000mph they hit the ground with the force of a small nuclear weapon — but crucially creating no radiation fall out.
- As bizarre as it sounds, a US Congressional report recently revealed the military has been pushing ahead with the kinetic space weapons.
Molten metal cannons
- This intriguing idea is being developed by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
- It is called the Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition or MAHEM.
- This game changing rail-gun can fire a jet of molten metal, hurled through space at several hundred miles per second by the most powerful electromagnets ever built.
- The molten metal can then morph into an aerodynamic slug during flight and pierce through another spacecraft or satellite and a munition explodes inside.
Space force ships
- Already the United States is powering head with its spacecraft, although China is busy developing one of their own.
- The top secret American XS-1 under development by DARPA.
- It can travel ten times the speed of sound and launch missiles.
- Meanwhile an unmanned craft is currently being developed in the China Aerodynamics Research and Development Centre in Mianyang, Sichuan province, which is also known as Base 29.
In other space news, a Nasa probe has snapped a mind-blowing image of an alien "Grand Canyon" on the surface of Mars.
An eerie panorama captured by Curiosity from the surface of Mars is the most detailed ever.
And, Elon Musk has sent another batch of broadband satellites into orbit.
What are your thoughts on Space Force? Let us know in the comments…
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