Tuesday, March 27, 2012

U.S. Navy's newly launched spacecraft is flying high


The U.S. Navy's new satellite to provide more agile communications for forces on the move has successfully maneuvered itself into a perch 22,300 miles above Earth and unfurled its giant umbrella-like mesh antennas.

Launched by ULA's Atlas 5 rocket on Feb. 24 from Cape Canaveral into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, the Mobile User Objective System 1 satellite has executed eight firings of its liquid apogee main engine to ascend from that dropoff point. The rocket delivered the craft to a preliminary 2,150 by 22,237 statute mile orbit, which has now been circularized, and the inclination was reduced from 19 degrees to about 5 degrees relative to the equator.

The Navy has not announced which of five available orbital zones the spacecraft will be operated from -- the vast Pacific Ocean, the continental U.S. coverage area, the Atlantic Ocean region, or two positions over the Indian Ocean and the Middle East. The testing location is over the Pacific in view of ground station in Hawaii.

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