ORLANDO, Fla. -- A large rocket lifted off Thursday afternoon from Florida's Space Coast on the first national security mission for the U.S. Space Force.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is carrying the sixth and final Advanced Extremely High Frequency series of communications satellites for the military.

The system provides global, protected communications for troops operating on the ground, air, and sea. Previous satellites in the series launched in 2010 up to 2019.

The launch window initially opened at 2:57 p.m. ET from Pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but the launch time was pushed back to 4:18 p.m. ET because of a ground systems hydraulic issue.

The 45th Space Wing is under a "HPCON Charlie" status, which means the workforce, residents, and community should limit meetings and gatherings using social distancing.

"During this challenging time, we must all do our part to protect our fellow service members, our families, and our community," said Brig. Gen. Douglas Schiess, who commands the facility.

Public parks along the Space Coast that are popular launch viewing areas are closed in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus. 

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