Shining Accomplishment

The Air Force’s five Milstar communications satellites have accumulated 50 years of combined on-orbit operations and continue to perform quite well, prime contractor Lockheed Martin said in a release April 27. Two of the five Milstar satellites are the first-generation Block I design. They launched in 1994 and 1995. The remaining three are Block II spacecraft that went into space between 2001 and 2003. The constellation provides US and allied military forces worldwide with secure and survivable communications throughput for the transfer of voice, data, and imagery, including video teleconferencing capabilities. “The Milstar team takes great pride in the constellation’s impressive record of performance and longevity,” said Kevin Bilger, Lockheed’s general manager of Global Communications Systems. The Milstar spacecraft will eventually be replaced starting around 2010 with up to six advanced extremely high frequency satellites that will offer much greater data-transfer rates and numbers of connections, thereby enabling more support at tactical levels.