EL SEGUNDO, Calif., 14 April 2012. Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced today that the U.S. Air Force accepted control of the fourth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) military communications satellite on April 11, after the spacecraft passed several weeks of on-orbit tests.
WGS-4 was launched Jan. 19 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket. It is the first spacecraft in the program's upgraded Block II series, which includes a new radio frequency (RF) bypass that supports the transmission of data at rates approximately three times greater than those currently available on Block I satellites.
On-orbit testing demonstrated the functionality of WGS-4's communications payload features by passing test signals through each of the satellite's 19 antenna beams. The tests also verified WGS-4's beam-steering functions.
Boeing performed the on-orbit testing from the company's Mission Control Center in El Segundo and from government facilities in central California. Air Force operations personnel at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado are conducting additional tests and preparing to move WGS-4 into its operational position. The satellite is expected to go into service this summer.
WGS satellites are built on the Boeing 702HP platform, which features xenon-ion propulsion, deployable thermal radiators, and triple-junction gallium-arsenide solar arrays. The WGS communications payload has the ability to interconnect terminals that operate in different frequency bands and to reposition coverage beams. WGS supports missions including tactical communications to and between ground forces, and relaying data and imagery from airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.