by Staff Writers
El Segundo, CA (SPX) Apr 13, 2012
Boeing reports that the U.S. Air Force accepted control of the fourth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) military communications satellite on April 11, after the spacecraft passed several weeks of rigorous on-orbit tests.
WGS-4 was launched Jan. 19 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket. It is the first spacecraft in the program's upgraded Block II series, which includes a new radio frequency (RF) bypass that supports the transmission of airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery at data rates approximately three times greater than those currently available on Block I satellites.
"This fourth WGS satellite adds substantial capacity and resiliency to the WGS constellation," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager, Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.
"The team worked around the clock to ensure that all testing was completed successfully, and that the satellite was healthy and ready for customer handover. We remain committed to the Air Force, the WGS mission, and to continuing to support the delivery of this critical enhancement of warfighter communications."
On-orbit testing demonstrated the functionality of WGS-4's communications payload features by passing test signals through each of the satellite's 19 antenna beams. The tests also verified WGS-4's beam-steering functions.
Boeing performed the on-orbit testing from the company's Mission Control Center in El Segundo and from government facilities in central California. Air Force operations personnel at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado are conducting additional tests and preparing to move WGS-4 into its operational position. The satellite is expected to go into service this summer.
WGS satellites are built on the proven Boeing 702HP platform, which features highly efficient xenon-ion propulsion, deployable thermal radiators, and advanced triple-junction gallium-arsenide solar arrays that enable high-capacity, flexible payloads.
The WGS communications payload has unique flexibility that is important to the military, as well as the ability to interconnect terminals that operate in different frequency bands and to reposition coverage beams based on evolving mission needs.
WGS supports missions including tactical communications to and between ground forces, and relaying data and imagery from airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.
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