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New satellite arrives at Cape

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force's first Wideband Global Satellite Communications spacecraft has arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 

Bringing unprecedented satellite communications services one step closer to the warfighter, the first satellite, WGS SV-1, was transported to the Cape in an environmentally controlled container aboard an Air Force C-5. 

From Cape Canaveral, it was transported to the Astrotech Space Facility in Titusville, Fla., for post-shipment processing. 

The satellite weighs approximately 13,000 pounds at launch and is the size of a large van, said Capt. Matthew Lukacs of the 45th Launch Support Squadron. 

"Over the next few weeks, we will be performing electrical and payload functional tests, as well as a launch base compatibility test with the Air Force Satellite Control Network," said Captain Lukacs. 

WGS SV-1 is currently scheduled to be launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle Aug. 31. 

This major milestone has come at the end of an extensive two-and one-half year long test program. During that time, the satellite's performance was verified as well as its ability to withstand the rigors of launch and exposure to the harsh space environment over its projected 14-year mission life. 

WGS will be the nation's next-generation wideband satellite communications system. It will augment and eventually replace the aging Defense Satellite Communication System, which has been the Department of Defense's backbone for satellite communications. 

This first spacecraft will provide more capacity than the current DSCS on-orbit constellation. 

"After final checkout and turnover of SV-1, we will have doubled the available high-capacity Military Satellite Communications services," said Col. Donald Robbins, Commander, Wideband SATCOM Group, MILSATCOM Systems Wing, Los Angeles AFB, Calif. 

"I'm excited to be a part of the inaugural launch of this system," said 1st Lieutenant Davina Fallaw, 5th Space Launch Squadron, "This mission epitomizes the 45th Space Wing mantra that 'Control of the Battlefield Begins Here.'" 

SV-1 will be the first WGS Block I satellite to be launched. SV-2 and SV-3 round out the remainder of the Block I contract and are both currently being processed. Both satellites are slated for launch next year. 

Local information for this article was provided by Airman David Dobrydney, 45th SW Public Affairs.