Spaceflight Now Home



The Mission




Rocket: Atlas 5 (AV-016)
Payload: WGS 2
Date: April 3, 2009
Window: 8:31-9:33 p.m. EDT (0031-0133 GMT 4th)
Site: Complex 41, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Broadcast: Intelsat Galaxy 28, Transponder 15, C-band, 89° West

Mission Status Center

Payload preview story

Photos: Launch gallery

Photos: Second rollout

Photos: Rollout to pad

Photos: Pre-launch work

Launch events timeline

Ground track map

The pre-launch flow

Atlas archive





NewsAlert



Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed direct to your desktop.

Enter your e-mail address:

Privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose.



Military satellite to give major communications boost
BY CRAIG COVAULT
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: March 16, 2009

U.S. and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, who face a shortage of wideband communications, will gain major additional capability pending the successful launch of the new Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft on its Atlas 5 rocket.

 
An artist's concept of WGS. Credit: Boeing
 
The 13,000-pound Boeing/U.S. Air Force spacecraft will be moved to a geosynchronous orbit parking spot over the equator where it can support operations in the Iraq and Afghan theatres.

With solar arrays spanning 157 feet, the spacecraft will provide an enormous increase in communication services needed by users in the area of responsibility under U.S. Central Command, headquartered in Tampa, Fla.

The WGS series is replacing the far less capable Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS). Each of the six planned WGS spacecraft will be based on the Boeing 702 communications satellite bus.

The sixth and final spacecraft in the series has been ordered by Australia.

The first of five WGS spacecraft for the U.S. Defense Dept. was launched from Cape Canaveral in October 2007. This first spacecraft is providing communications to all military services operating in the Pacific theatre.

One WGS has the communications throughput capability of the entire DSCS fleet. In fact, during operational testing with the first satellite, the government successfully transmitted a record-breaking 440 megabits-per-second of communications through the original spacecraft.

The standard WGS transmission capability will be 2.5-3.3 gigabits per second -- 10 times faster than an individual DSCS.

The new WGS satellites have a unique frequency conversion capability that will allow users on one frequency to communicate through the same satellite with a user on a different frequency.

The satellite will operate in the 500 MHz range of X-band and the 1 GHz range of Ka-band, routing and cross filtering up to 4.875 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth.

Each spacecraft can serve nearly 20 independent coverage areas. It can provide up to eight steerable and shaped X-band spot beams formed by separate transmit/receive phased array antennas. Along with that, it can project 10 Ka-band beams by independently steered and diplexed antennas, including three with selectable RF polarization.

The new satellite will be involved in serving a wide range of users from routine email through the routing of high resolution intelligence imagery, video and commands for the piloting of Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

It will also be useful for clandestine operations.

Added satcom capability will be welcome, says U.S. Air Force Capt. Wade H. McGrew, who leads the Space Applications Course taught at the Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The school prepares Special Operations personnel for often secret operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other areas of the world.

In addition to teaching the course, McGrew has seen action with the Special Forces himself in Iraq.

"We need larger amounts of data faster," McGrew says. "As the [capability for] for more data grows we continue to grow our uses right along with it," he says.

Capt. McGrew's educational work in the field and at Hurlburt to broaden the Special Forces' use of space recently earned him the 2009 National Defense Space Award from the National's Space Club's Florida Chapter.

The need for even more bandwidth will become more acute in the future, as the Army fields its Future Combat System (FCS) designed to link far more vehicles with computer displays. Much greater use of UAVs and ground-based robotic vehicles will also increase bandwidth needs that the WGS capabilities will begin to address.

John Glenn Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Final Shuttle Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Celebrate the shuttle program

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Anniversary Shuttle Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Mercury anniversary

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!


Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Fallen Heroes Patch Collection
The official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE


MISSION STATUS CENTER

INDEX | PLUS | NEWS ARCHIVE | LAUNCH SCHEDULE
ASTRONOMY NOW | STORE

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.