USAF launches sixth wideband global SATCOM satellite

7 August 2013 (Last Updated August 7th, 2013 18:30)

The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully launched the sixth Boeing-built Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-6) military communications satellite from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

WGS-6 satellite

The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully launched the sixth Boeing-built Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-6) military communications satellite from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

Launched on-board a United Launch Alliance Delta IV vehicle, the satellite is expected to continue to extend the global reach of the WGS system to additional users.

Received by USAF in May 2013, the spacecraft represents the third satellite to be manufactured under the upgraded Block II series contract secured by Boeing in October 2006, and will specifically increase bandwidth capacity, coverage and flexibility for the US and allied military forces.

The data provided by the satellite will also be accessed by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the US Department of Defense (DoD) in 2007.

"The satellite is expected to continue to extend the global reach of the WGS system to additional users."

Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems vice-president and general manager Craig Cooning said the demand for wideband satellite communications continues to increase.

''WGS-6 and the additional WGS spacecraft yet to be launched will help to meet that need,'' Cooning said.

The launch follows the May 24 deployment of WGS-5 satellite on-board the Delta IV rocket from the Space Launch Complex 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Built on the Boeing 702HP platform, WGS satellites are designed to support missions including to and from tactical communications between ground forces and the relaying of data and imagery from airborne ISR platforms.

Equipped with efficient xenon-ion propulsion, deployable thermal radiators and advanced triple-junction gallium-arsenide solar arrays, the satellites also facilitate interconnection between terminals operating in different frequency bands and reposition coverage beams according to mission requirements.

The first four WGS satellites were successfully launched in 2007, April and December 2009, and 2012, while the WGS-7 satellites ordered under a Block II follow-on contract in August 2010 are currently in various stages of development.


Image: The WGS-5 satellite lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance.

Defence Technology