Lockheed Martin has successfully completed launch environment testing of its fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) satellite.

Currently in system-level testing, the AEHF-5 satellite is being prepared to be delivered to the US Air Force (USAF) next year.

Thermal vacuum chamber (TVAC) testing involves simulating the real-world on-orbit phase scenario where the satellite is exposed to extreme cold and heat in zero atmospheres. It is carried out for 39 days.

TVAC test is conducted to ensure a satellite arrives in space functionally sound and is prepared to operate through extreme temperature changes in space.

“The satellite will join the AEHF constellation to deliver global, highly-secure, protected and survivable communications for the US and allied troops.”

The AEHF-5 satellite also completed acoustic testing, where it was subjected to high-intensity, low-frequency sound waves.

Sound waves simulated vibrations generated by a rocket propelling its payload from 0mph-17,500mph in less than eight minutes.

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Lockheed Martin Space Protected Communications vice-president Michael Cacheiro said: “TVAC and acoustic tests are critical milestones in the production cycle of a satellite, where we have one shot to get it right, so we take every precaution to ensure the vehicle is ready for the harsh space environment.

“We design and build our AEHF satellites to serve our military’s strategic and tactical protected communications needs.”

Expected to be launched in 2019, the satellite will join the AEHF constellation to deliver global, highly-secure, protected and survivable communications for the US and allied troops on ground, sea and air platforms.

The AEHF team is led by the USAF Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate at the Space and Missile Systems Center located at the Los Angeles Air Force Base (AFB) in California.

Lockheed Martin Space serves as the prime contractor and system manager of the AEHF programme, and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems operates as the satellite payload provider.