Monday, April 06, 2009

Boeing-Built Satellite WGS-2 Sends 1st Signals From Space

Boeing has acquired the first on-orbit signals from the second of six Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellites that the company is building for the U.S. Air Force. The signals indicate that the spacecraft is healthy and ready to begin orbital maneuvers and operational testing.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V vehicle successfully launched satellite WGS-2 at 8:31 p.m. Eastern time on April 3 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base. A ground station in Dongara, Australia, received the satellite's first signals 44 minutes later, at 9:15 p.m. Eastern time. Boeing controllers in El Segundo, Calif., confirmed that the satellite is functioning normally.

"Friday's launch represents an important milestone in the implementation of the WGS fleet," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "We thank the U.S. Air Force, The Aerospace Corporation, and the United Launch Alliance for their continuing partnership with Boeing as we build and launch these assets that significantly increase the communications flexibility and capability of U.S. military personnel."

Following a series of orbital maneuvers and rigorous on-orbit testing, WGS-2 will begin operating for the Air Force. WGS-1, which entered service in April 2008, and WGS-2 will increase the communications capacity bandwidth available to the Air Force and help meet the growing demand for military satellite communications.

The WGS satellites are Boeing 702 spacecraft with 13 kilowatts of power, flexible coverage areas, and the ability to connect X-band and Ka-band users anywhere within their field of view via reconfigurable antennas and a digital channelizer. The satellites' ability to transmit on X-band, Ka-band or both is not available on any other military satellite communications system.

Boeing is building three Block I and three Block II WGS satellites. The Block II satellites will include a radio frequency bypass designed to support airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms requiring additional bandwidth. Boeing designs and builds the WGS satellites at its factory in El Segundo.