Sunday, April 05, 2009

Airmen help launch satellite into orbit

by Staff Sgt. Stacy Foster, 50th Space Wing Public Affairs

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Air Force's second Wideband Global Satellite Communications system lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41 April 3 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. After a 31-minute flight, WGS-2 was placed successfully in orbit where it will provide enhanced communication abilities to troops in the field. (Courtesy photo)

The Air Force's second Wibeband Global Satellite Communications satellite was successfully launched into orbit April 3 by officials from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

WGS-2 joins the service's first WGS satellite that was launched Oct. 10, 2007.

The WGS system significantly increases the communications capabilities for troops in the field, allies and national leadership, to include the president.

"WGS-1 has performed beyond our expectations," said Lt. Col. Brent McArthur, the 3rd Space Operations Squadron commander. "In fact, feedback from users indicates the capabilities have exceeded their expectations as well and they just can't get enough of it."

The 3rd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo., maintains control of WGS-1, and is scheduled to assume control of WGS-2 in late June 2009.

The WGS-2 mission is the second installment of the WGS system. The WGS satellites are important elements of a new high-capacity satellite communications system providing enhanced communications capabilities to America's troops around the world for the next decade and beyond. WGS enables more robust and flexible execution of command and control, communications computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as battle management and combat support information functions. WGS-2 augments the existing service of the WGS-1 satellite by providing additional information broadcast capabilities.

"This has been a Herculean effort. There are literally thousands of people working around the clock to make this a success," Colonel McArthur said. "It's an awesome responsibility for 3rd Space Operations Squadron (members) to assume control of WGS-2 after so many people have spent hundreds of thousands of hours getting this satellite to where it is today."

The satellite will be positioned over the equator at around 60 degrees East longitude to provide support to U.S. Central Command in Afghanistan, Iraq and others parts of Southwest Asia.

WGS-3 is currently scheduled to launch in August from Cape Canaveral AFS. Three additional satellites are planned to be launched after WGS-3 to bring the constellation to a total of six by 2013.