Boeing has received the first on-orbit signals from the fourth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite it is delivering to the U.S. Air Force. The signals indicate that WGS-4, the first in the Block II series, is healthy and ready to begin orbital manoeuvres and operational testing.
Further detailed information can be found on Boeing’s website here.
WGS-4 launched on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV vehicle on 19th January 2012 at 7:38 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Controllers confirmed initial contact with the spacecraft 58 minutes later at 8:36 p.m. Eastern time at a ground station in Dongara, Australia. Boeing’s Mission Control Centre in El Segundo, California confirmed that the satellite is functioning normally.
The dramatic launch video, photographs and further information can be found on ULA’s website here.
WGS-4 is an extremely advanced satellite operating at the established X-Band and the high frequency Ka-Band. It uses phased array, shaped beam, steerable spotbeams to provide coverage to support coalition forces anywhere on the globe.
Just one WGS satellite has the same capacity as the whole DSCS system combined! It’s like going from dial-up networking to high speed broadband.
I have a very personal interest in WGS for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I wrote the Users’ Guide to Europe’s first Ka-Band satellite, ESA’s OLYMPUS, in the 1990s. That also had steerable spotbeams.