A more capable iteration of the Space Force’s Wideband Global Satellite Communications satellites, WGS-11+, can start production since passing a critical design review.
The new satellite is destined to join a constellation of 10 other WGS satellites in high geosynchronous Earth orbits providing communications to deployed forces.
Space Systems Command announced the milestone Feb. 1. A statement said WGS-11+ “will have more communications flexibility than the entire existing WGS constellation”—referring to the new satellite’s numerous coverage beams—with “twice the mission capability in contested environments.”
Other improvements involve “uniquely” shaping the terrestrial footprint of the beams for smaller footprints that are less susceptible to jamming.
WGS users include the military, the White House Communications Agency, the State Department, and international entities in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Norway.
At the time the program passed its preliminary design review in October 2020, contractor Boeing said delivery was on track for 2024.
In its newest announcement, Space Systems Command said the program “maintains an aggressive five-year schedule poised to deliver six months faster than legacy WGS satellites.”
The Defense Department started placing WGS satellites in orbit in 2007. A description published by the Air Force calls the constellation “the backbone of the U.S. military’s satellite communications” adding the satellites themselves are its “highest capacity communications satellites.”
The “narrower spot beams” on WGS-11+ are designed “to deliver a stronger, more reliable connection,” said vice president of Boeing Government Satellite Systems Troy Dawson in the Boeing release.