The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has completed integration and test of the U.S. Air Force's first Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite, bringing unprecedented satellite communications services one step closer to the warfighter.
"One WGS satellite will provide more communications capacity than the entire Defense Satellite Communication System constellation that's currently on orbit," said Howard Chambers, vice president and general manager, Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "The spacecraft will be a game-changer for the U.S. government and will revolutionize wideband SATCOM capabilities for the warfighter."
The performance of the first WGS satellite during testing has been excellent, and factory data suggests it will provide approximately 25 percent more communications capacity by the end of its 14-year mission life as a result of high performance margins within the communications payload.
Boeing is under contract for five WGS Block I and II spacecraft, with an option for a sixth. The first satellite has completed factory testing and rigorous mission assurance reviews, and is ready to ship to the launch site in Florida, where it will be launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket this August. The spacecraft will be placed into an environmentally-controlled container and transported to Cape Canaveral Air Station in an Air Force C-5 aircraft.
WGS will augment and eventually replace the Defense Satellite Communication System and the important Global Broadcast Service function currently provided by UHF Follow-On satellites. It also will reduce the government's reliance on commercial SATCOM services. WGS can operate at both X-band and Ka-band frequencies, and provide many important operational features that are not available from any other SATCOM system. For example, WGS has 18 reconfigurable coverage areas, the ability to broadcast or multicast transmissions into the various coverage areas, and connect users between any and all coverage areas, even when operating on different frequency bands.
Boeing has leveraged a wealth of experience and capability for WGS, including extensive investments in the 702 satellite platform, digital signal processors and phased array antennas. The second and third Block I satellites are progressing through factory testing and are expected to be launched in 2008.
Boeing also has been commissioned to build two WGS Block II satellites, WGS-4 and WGS-5. They will be similar to the first three Block I satellites, but will include a radio frequency bypass capability designed to support airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms requiring additional bandwidth. The RF bypass will support data rates of up to 311 megabits per second. The WGS satellites are all Boeing 702 models with13-kilowatts of power each. WGS-4 is expected to launch in early 2011.