The US Air Force’s (USAF) 45th Space Wing has successfully launched the seventh Boeing-built Wideband Global Satcom (WGS-7) satellite from Space Launch Complex 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US.
Launched aboard the United Launch Alliance-built Delta IV rocket, the WGS-7 sent its first successful signals soon after, and is expected to provide the US and allied militaries with 17% more secure communications bandwidth than its predecessors due to a payload upgrade.
Built on the Boeing 702HP platform, WGS satellites are designed to support missions such as to and from tactical communications between ground forces and the relaying of data and imagery from airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.
Equipped with efficient xenon-ion propulsion, deployable thermal radiators and advanced triple-junction gallium-arsenide solar arrays, the satellites can support simultaneous X and Ka band communications, with crossbanding making it transparent for the soldier to communicate across terminal types.
In addition, the system enables combatant commanders to exert command and control of their tactical forces, from peacetime to military operations.
The first six WGS satellites were launched in October 2007, April and December 2009, January 2012, May and August 2013, while the WGS-7 to 10 satellites ordered by the USAF under a Block II follow-on contract in August 2010 are in various stages of development.
According to Boeing, the next three satellites will also incorporate its advanced digital payload design that doubles payload bandwidth and further boosts connectivity.
Boeing Government Space Systems vice-president Dan Hart said: "Every WGS that we deliver increases the ability of US and allied forces to reliably transmit vital information.
"By utilising commercial processes, we are able to offer greater capacity at a lower spacecraft cost, resulting in more than $150m in savings for WGS-7 through WGS-10."
The WGS-8 spacecraft is scheduled to be launched in late 2016.
Image: A ULA Delta IV rocket carrying the USAF’s WGS-7 satellite lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of United Launch Alliance.