An Atlas 5 rocket blasted off just after dawn Friday carrying a broadcast communications satellite designed to provide subscribers with direct-to-home video and broadband services.
It was the fourth launch of an Atlas 5, the newest rocket in Lockheed Martin’s stable. The Atlas 5 replaces the Atlas 2, which is retired, as well as the Atlas 3, the last of which is scheduled to lift off early next year.
The 196-foot-tall (60-meter-tall) rocket, the first of which flew in 2002, was developed as part of an Air Force program to provide access to space for military missions. Each of the first four launches, however, has been commercial.
The AMC-16 satellite that rode the rocket into space will provide direct-to-home video and broadband services to subscribers across the continental U.S. and Hawaii. The Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft has a life expectancy of 15 years.
Both Lockheed Martin and SES Americom officials refused to disclose the cost of the mission, but a similar mission last year was reported to have cost roughly $250 million.