January 30, 2008 Boeing has handed over control of the first of six Wideband Global SATCOM satellites to the US Air Force. WGS-1 is the Department of Defense's highest capacity communications satellite and the WGS line is to eventually replace the Defense Satellite Communications System constellation.
Boeing controlled the satellite from its launch on October 10, 2007, and took it through a series of orbital manoeuvres and checkout procedures before relinquishing control to the Air Force’s 3rd Space Operations Squadron at Shriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The second and third WGS Block I satellites are scheduled to launch later this year. The program is designed to reduce the government’s reliance on commercial satellite communications services.
The satellite offers a marked improvement in communications bandwidth for the military, and has a 25 percent power margin in its downlink beams, which provides additional communications capacity. It also has a 50 percent margin in its propulsion capability, which could provide up to seven additional years of mission life over the baseline requirement.
"This first WGS satellite is meeting all performance requirements and is exceeding key requirements in ways that will be extremely beneficial to the warfighter," said Craig Cooning, vice president and acting general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "On Dec. 21, 2007, the Air Force exercised the option for a sixth WGS spacecraft, underscoring the importance of the capabilities these satellites provide to the U.S. and its allies. The follow-on contract also reaffirmed the confidence our customer has in our ability to deliver complex systems that fully meet mission requirements."
"WGS-1 represents the first step in our transformational satellite communications journey," said Brigadier General Susan Mashiko, commander of the Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing at the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles. "Launching the first WGS has effectively doubled the bandwidth available to warfighters from U.S. government satellites, which means the people in the field who need that vital information will get it much faster, providing a critical advantage in today's battlefield environment."