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Satellite to enhance military communications launched

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the U.S. Air Force’s second Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 8:31 p.m. EDT April 3.  After a 31-minute flight, WGS-2 was placed successfully in orbit where it will provide enhanced communication abilities to our troops in the field.  (United Launch Alliance photo by Pat Corkery)

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the U.S. Air Force’s second Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 8:31 p.m. EDT April 3. After a 31-minute flight, WGS-2 was placed successfully in orbit where it will provide enhanced communication abilities to our troops in the field. (United Launch Alliance photo by Pat Corkery)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- An important piece of warfighting equipment was launched April 3 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop an Atlas V booster.

The second in a new generation of military communication satellites, the Wideband Global SATCOM satellites will, from 22,300 miles away, provide ever-increasing capabilities to troops in the field.

"We're helping to give the most versatile and sophisticated technology to our warfighters," said Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr., 45th Space Wing commander. "Congratulations to the entire team for their hard work and dedication to the mission."

Developed at the Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., the WGS satellites are a follow-on to the Defense Satellite Communications System/Global Broadcast Service missions which have provided super high frequency SATCOM for the President, Secretary of Defense, and multiple government networks for the past several years. Tactical forces will rely on WGS to provide high-capacity connectivity into the terrestrial portion of the Defense Information Systems Network.

The first WGS launch was in October 2007. When completed in 2013, the WGS constellation will consist of six satellites, supplanting X-band communications now provided by the DSCS constellation and will provide a one way Ka-band service (similar to what the Global Broadcast Service (GBS) provides). Additionally, WGS will provide a new two-way Ka-band service. With 100 times more coverage, capacity and connectivity, each single WGS spacecraft provides more capability than the entire nine-piece DSCS constellation.

Actually launching the Atlas V carrying the satellite was the job of the 5th Space Launch Squadron. "The upgrade is comparable to making a transition from dial-up to a broadband internet connection," said Capt. Jeffery Fisher, mission lead for the launch. "I've deployed twice to [Southeast Asia] and communication in a combat zone can never be too quick when it comes to benefiting our frontline warfighters!" he added.