United Launch Alliance has successfully deployed a Department of Defense (DOD) communications satellite aboard a Delta IV M+ (5,4) rocket.
The Delta IV M+ (5,4) carrying the WGS-10 communications satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 22:56 UTC (18:56 EST). Following two successful upper stage burns, the satellite was placed into its designated geostationary orbit approximately 37 minutes into the mission.
The Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system is a high capacity military communications system that began as a partnership between the US DOD and the Australian Department of Defense. Since then, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and New Zealand have joined the partnership funding the ninth WSG satellite.
The WGS-10 satellite is the tenth satellite in the WSG constellation and the third upgraded WSG Block II Follow-On satellite. The Block II Follow-On variant features upgraded digital channelizers that boost the capacity of the satellites by as much as 30 percent.
Currently, the DOD utilises a combination of the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) and the Global Broadcast Service (GBS) for military communications. The new WGS will, however, be far more capable. Reports have indicated that a single WGS satellite will offer as much bandwidth as the entire DSCS and GBS constellations combined.
An additional two WGS satellites have already been ordered with exact launch dates not yet finalised.