On-Orbit Interpreters

The Air Force’s ability to link two different frequency bands using its Wideband Global Satellite Communications constellation is making a big difference in Japan’s post-earthquake and –tsunami recovery efforts. The WGS satellites are making X-band communications possible within Japan so that there is no interference in the Ka-band, in which the Japanese emergency services operate. “The ability of WGS to provide X-band communications support within Japan, cross-banded to Ka-band communications support outside of the region, is playing a significant role in coordinating and executing relief efforts,” explained Col. Donald Robbins, WGS chief at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. Currently, the WGS constellation comprises three satellites, but the Air Force may procure up to 12 WGS spacecraft in total. WGS-4 is scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral, AFS, Fla., in December. (Los Angeles release)