The Yanks just put a new satellite up that went live on the 15th and it's a bad boy
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo: The most powerful communications satellite in the Department of Defense inventory is circling the Earth and went operational April 15.
The Wideband Global SATCOM, or WGS, satellite is the first of six satellites that will take over long-haul communications from the legacy constellation, the Defense Satellite Communications System, called DSCS.
In the past when a new communications satellite was needed, Air Force officials would build it, launch it and then other services could use the capabilities it provided. Today, the warfighting community, including Air Force Space Command members, get together and define the requirements for today and into the future and then the engineers go to work to design a capability that will support the warfighter for the estimated life expectancy of the satellite.
WGS is an example of such cooperation. Originally planned as a gap filler between the DSCS system and a more capable system, it evolved to become the new system. Each WGS is more capable than the entire nine-satellite DSCS constellation now in operation. The six-satellite WGS constellation should be operational sometime in 2012.
The joint aspect of this satellite constellation is similar to the way the DSCS constellation operates. Air Force Space Command officials are charged with "flying" the WGS satellite through the 3rd Space Operations Squadron located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. The 3rd SOPS staff continuously monitors and maintains satellite health by performing daily telemetry, tracking and commanding functions.
The Army's Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command staff operates the payload in direct support of the warfighting community and other government agencies throughout the DOD.
Peter Stauffer, the director of the Wideband SATCOM Division at SMDC/ARSTRAT, spoke about the difference WGS payload capabilities will make to the warfighter.
"WGS provides a quantum leap in capabilities -- not only in throughput but also in operational flexibility," he said. "The ability for the warfighter to exchange information faster using higher data rates and more efficiently with the ability to reach different locations simultaneously is part of the inherent capability of WGS. Data, full motion video, maps, voice and imagery will be received and transmitted by warfighters at all levels -- tactical, operational and strategic."
Mr. Stauffer also addressed the difference in operations for the Army units operating the payload.
"Network planning and payload operations for WGS are more complicated than with the DSCS system. The operational flexibility provided by WGS -- cross-banding between X-band and Ka-band, transmitting between multiple beams (multicast), fan-in, and fan-out -- makes planning and payload management more challenging," Mr. Stauffer said. "The expertise and dedication of our people in the SATCOM Support Centers and 53rd Signal Battalion is going to make the difference. They understand the importance of this mission and they will make it happen."
The joint operation of this satellite is an example of Air Force and Army warfighting commands supporting the entire warfighter community.