Boeing launches eighth WGS satellite with upgraded digital payload for USAF


Boeing has successfully launched the eighth installment of the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite for the US Air Force (USAF) from Space Launch Complex-37 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The WGS-8 lifted off from a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket to cater to the increasing demand for high-data-rate communications of warfighters around the globe.

Boeing government satellite systems vice-president Dan Hart said: “Not only does WGS-8’s cutting edge digital payload nearly double the satellite’s bandwidth, but the US Government was able to realise more than $150m in savings for WGS-7 through WGS-10 through fixed-price block purchases and commercial operating practices.

“We’ve been able to both increase the capability and reduce the per-unit cost with each new WGS satellite we’ve delivered, making WGS, by far, the most cost-effective asset for military communications.”

With an ability to filter and downlink up to 8.088GHz of bandwidth, WGS-8 is the second Block II Follow-on satellite launched to support communications links in the X-band and Ka-band spectra.

The WGS satellites form a key part of a new high-capacity satellite communications system that provides enhanced communications capability to troops in the field.

The Delta IV rocket was powered by one common booster core and four solid rocket motors built by Orbital ATK.

"We’ve been able to both increase the capability and reduce the per-unit cost with each new WGS satellite we’ve delivered."

To date, ULA has launched more than 110 satellites into orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of the solar system.

Boeing has increased bandwidth and capacity of its satellite products during the past two years.

The company will launch ten WGS satellites in total.


Image: Boeing’s eighth WGS satellite. Photo: courtesy of Boeing.