SPAWAR’s First MUOS Satellite Taking Off

The U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command is planning to launch the first satellite in the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) constellation tonight at 5:42 p.m. EST. (Yesterday’s attempt was scrubbed due to weather.) You can watch the live stream of the launch hosted by ULA Launch Alliance.

The first Mobile User Objective System satellite is fully integrated and ready to be transferred to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to prepare for liftoff aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle on Feb. 16, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

The first Mobile User Objective System satellite is fully integrated and ready to be transferred to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to prepare for liftoff aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle on Feb. 16, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

This is a rare event as the Navy doesn’t often have a significant role in space. Typically satellite launches are handled by the Air Force, however the Navy is responsible for all of DOD’s Ultra High Frequency (UHF) narrowband satellite communications acquisition. The UHF radio frequency spectrum is the military’s most effective band for penetrating jungle foliage, bad weather, and urban settings. All U.S. military forces and many of our allies rely upon Navy satellites for these communications.

MUOS combines commericial third generation (3G) Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) cellular technology with geosychronous satellites to provide a more capable communications network for our warfighters. When complete, the constellation will include four operational satellites with an additional on-orbit spare, a ground control system, and a network management system. Flying the satellites and controlling access to users’ communications can all be managed from the ground.

The MUOS constellation will provide 10 times the current communications bandwidth capacity, supplying a new waveform for user terminals. The Joint Tactical Radio System will be adapted to support these new waveforms, as well as certain upgraded legacy terminals. In addition, each satellite will carry a legacy payload to continue to support legacy terminals, allowing for a more gradual transition to the new waveform.

Lockheed Martin successfully completes thermal vacuum testing of the Navy’s first Mobile User Objective System satellite, a major program milestone that validated spacecraft performance in a simulated test-like-you-fly space environment. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin successfully completes thermal vacuum testing of the Navy’s first Mobile User Objective System satellite, a major program milestone that validated spacecraft performance in a simulated test-like-you-fly space environment. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

 

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About Carla Voorhees

Carla Voorhees has always been interested in science, from the time she grew string beans under varying conditions for the science fair (3rd grade) to the time she took every math and science class she could during high school. As her path during college and beyond took her somewhat away from the hard sciences, she is thrilled to be a part of the Armed With Science team. Carla holds a B.S. in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2007), and an M.B.A. in Design Strategy from the California College of the Arts (2010). She works as a Web Strategist at DOD Public Web.
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