ULA performed its final launch of 2016 Sunday, expanding high speed internet across North America

An Atlas V rocket waits at Cape Canveral in 2013. (NASA Goddard Spaceflight/Flickr)
An Atlas V rocket waits at Cape Canveral in 2013. (NASA Goddard Spaceflight/Flickr)
An Atlas V rocket waits at Cape Canaveral in 2013. (NASA Goddard Spaceflight/Flickr)

Centennial-based United Launch Alliance made its final launch of 2016 Sunday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Today’s mission launched HughesNet’s EchoStar 19 broadband satellite in orbit atop an Atlas V rocket, improving high speed internet services for home and business HughesNet subscribers across North America.

HughesNet currently serves a million customers through its two existing satellites — EchoStar 17 and Spaceway 3, Spaceflight Now reported. But this new satellite will support an estimated 220 gigabits per second, making it the highest capacity broadband satellite in orbit.

This will allow HughesNet to support additional subscribers, as well as improve internet speed and data to existing customers.

“Our target markets will continue to be the geographies not penetrated by cable and fiber, and we believe that the improved service offering will allow us to expand our addressable market of underserved homes,” Pradman Kaul, the president of HughesNet said in a conference.

The HughesNet North American team is currently developing HughesNet Gen5 plans that will be available once the EchoStar 19 settles into orbit. No official dates for the launch of Gen5 have yet been released, yet the company told Spaceflight Now they will be announcing packages and pricing in January 2017.

And in early summer, HughesNet expects to begin offering internet to passengers on commercial flights, Spaceflight Now reported.

The EchoStar 19 will the fifth EchoStar satellite launched by ULA since 1997 and market the 12th and final launch for ULA in 2016.

United Launch Alliance is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security. The Centennial-based partnership formed in December 2006 to provide launch services to the U.S. government.

The EchoStar 19 will launch Sunday, Dec. 18 at 1:27 p.m E.S.T. Stream it live on ULA’s website or on Youtube.

This story has been updated to reflect a successful launch.

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at caiello@denverite.com or twitter.com/chlobo_ilo.

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