WGS-4 Communication Satellite Launched into Orbit

The Air Force and its industry partners successfully launched WGS-4, the fourth Boeing-built Wideband Global Satellite Communications spacecraft, into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket that blasted off Thursday evening East Coast time from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. “The 45th Space Wing is proud to work this important Air Force launch of WGS-4 with [the] Space and Missile Systems Center, United Launch Alliance, and Boeing,” said Col. Rory Welch, the wing’s vice commander and the launch decision authority, in a release. Boeing announced that it received the first on-orbit signals from the satellite, indicating that it “is healthy and ready to begin orbital maneuvers and operational testing.” WGS-4 joins three WGS Block I satellites already operating on orbit. It is the first spacecraft in the series in the Block II configuration that adds throughput support for airborne intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance platforms requiring ultra-high bandwidth and data rates. This week has been a busy one for the WGS program, with the United States on Tuesday detailing a new partnership with five nations to enable the purchase of WGS-9, which the Air Force then ordered on the following day. (See also SMC release.)