Two of the spacecraft will be operational satellites of the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP, and will provide the U.S. Strategic Command with space situational awareness data allowing for more accurate tracking and identification of orbiting objects.
The third will be an experimental satellite in near-geosynchronous orbit. It is part of a program called Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space.
ANGELS will conduct safe research activities around the upper stage of its Delta IV launch vehicle.
"ANGELS will test new space situational awareness techniques and technologies while performing safe, automated spacecraft operations to support and enhance future U.S. missions," the Air Force said.
"...These operational and experimental systems will enhance the nation's ability to monitor and assess events regarding our military and commercial systems," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "In essence, they will create a space neighborhood watch capability."
The two GSSAP spacecraft and the ANGELS experimental satellite were being launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on the same United Launch Alliance Delta IV booster.