Leap Ahead in Communications

The Air Force’s first Wideband Global Satellite Communications satellite became operational April 15 and is now able to deliver more communications bandwidth capability than the entire nine-satellite legacy Defense Satellite Communications System constellation. USAF launched the satellite into orbit on Oct. 10, 2007 from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. The first of six planned WGS satellites, it resides over the Western Pacific. The 3rd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo., operates the satellite, while the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command manages the payload. “WGS provides a quantum leap in capabilities—not only in throughput, but in operational flexibility,” said Peter Stauffer, director of the Wideband SATCOM Division at SMDC/ARSTRAT. The six-satellite WGS constellation will be operational sometime in 2012. Satellites two and three are planned for launch later this year. Australia is cooperating in the WGS program. (Includes Peterson report by Ed White and Schriever report by SSgt. Daniel Martinez)