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WGS launch ushers in new era of information dominance

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force launched the first of a new generation of military communication satellites Oct. 10 when an Atlas V booster carried a Wideband Global SATCOM satellite into space.

WGS will provide a quantum leap in communications bandwidth for Marines, Solidiers, Sailors and Airmen. It will augment and eventually replace the aging Defense Satellite Communication System which has been the Department of Defense's backbone for satellite communications over the last two decades.

"Once the satellite becomes operational, it will become the Department of Defense's highest capacity communications satellite and provide critical effects for our warfighters," said Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th Space Wing commander. "This mission proves that control of the battlefield really does begin here. Congratulations to our entire government/industry launch team."

Several members of that launch team watched the launch from 5,000 feet in altitude onboard 920th Rescue Wing HH-60 helicopters conducting Range clearing operations. Among them was Lt. Col. Pat Youngson, director of operations for the 45th Operations Support Squadron. "It was amazing to be at cloud level seeing the Atlas V 'coming' up as opposed to 'going' up," he said. "Using night vision goggles to follow the solid rocket boosters fall was quite a sight, too."

This mission also marked the 11th flight of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral AFS. "The Atlas V continues to prove its reliability and value as a system that helps sustain America's access to space," General Helms said.