Navy Launches Communications Satellite
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy's first Mobile User Objective System satellite was launched Feb. 24 from Space Launch Complex 41.
MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical communications system designed to improve communications for U.S. forces on the move. MUOS will provide military users simultaneous voice, video and data capability by leveraging 3G mobile communications technology.
Born from the need for stable, 24/7 ship-to-shore communication that could be successful regardless of environments and geographical conditions, the Navy is responsible for providing narrowband satellite communication for the Department of Defense.
"MUOS' top requirements include capacity, coverage and link availabilities. It will provide 24 hours a day, seven days a week global coverage," said Navy Capt. Paul Ghyzel, MUOS program manager. "The ability for a warfighter to make a telephone call over a MUOS terminal and send data at 10 times more capacity than they can now will be a significant improvement."
For the Navy MUOS team, many of whom have spent years on the program, the successful launch is just the beginning of work to come. "We are very excited to see this milestone today. It's the end of one phase and the beginning of another," said Navy Cmdr. Jeff King, a MUOS systems engineer who worked on the program for three years.
King explained that upon separation from the launch vehicle the satellite will stay in a temporary orbital slot for initial testing.
"The satellite will spend the next several months in its geostationary orbit and be thoroughly checked out by the combined government and contractor team before being turned over for operational use."
Operational use, also known as initial operational capability, for the first MUOS satellite is expected in summer 2012. Control of the satellite will then be turned over to the Naval Satellite Operations Command in Point Mugu, Calif.
Ultimately, the MUOS constellation will consist of four satellites and an on-orbit spare. The system also includes four ground stations strategically located around the globe, which provide worldwide coverage and the ability to connect users wherever they are. The ground system transports data, manages the worldwide network and controls the satellites.
With today's narrowband communication system, users have to be stationary with an antenna up and pointed toward a satellite.
"With MUOS they'll be able to move around the battlespace," said King. "They'll be able to communicate to users on the other side of a mountain or the other side of the world."
Beyond providing continuous communication for all branches of the U.S. military, Navy provided space-based narrowband capability also ensures reliable worldwide coverage for national emergency assistance, disaster response and humanitarian relief.
The MUOS constellation is expected to achieve full operational capability in 2015, extending narrowband availability well past 2025.
Today's launch was originally scheduled for Feb. 16 and again Feb. 22, both canceled and rescheduled due to unfavorable weather conditions.
The program is managed by the Navy's Program Executive Office for Space Systems, Chantilly, Va., and its Communications Satellite Program Office in San Diego.