US Navy's MUOS-3

Lockheed Martin‘s third mobile-user objective system (MUOS) spacecraft has been successfully encapsulated into its payload fairing, making it ready for its scheduled launch on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket on 20 January 2015.

Operating as a smartphone network in the sky, the MUOS, which is intended for the US Navy, is aimed at improving existing mobile satellite communications for soldiers on-the-go.

Lockheed Martin Narrowband Communications vice-president Iris Bombelyn said: "MUOS is a game changer in communications for our warfighters and will allow them to have high-fidelity voice conversations, networked team calls and data exchange, including video, with anyone connected to a secure terminal around the world.

"The launch of MUOS-3 will increase our network coverage to about three-quarters of the globe."

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Following the launch, the satellite will offer users an on-demand, beyond-line-of-sight potential to broadcast and receive high-quality, prioritised voice and mission information, on a high-speed internet protocol-based system.

The satellite, which will replace the legacy ultra-high frequency (UHF) follow-on system, is integrated with two payloads to certify UHF narrowband communications accessibility and latest capabilities.

"The launch of MUOS-3 will increase our network coverage to about three-quarters of the globe."

Integrating commercial technology and a new waveform, the spacecraft’s advanced wideband code division access (WCDMA) payload provides a priority-based capacity.

Once the satellite turns fully operational, it will provide 16 times the capacity of the legacy system.

The US Navy launched its MUOS-1 and MUOS-2 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They are currently operational and successfully connected users near the Arctic poles during independent assessments.

Lockheed is also working on the upcoming MUOS-4, which is on track for a launch next year, with the final MUOS ground station also set for commissioning early next year.

Image: The US Navy’s MUOS-3 satellite being encapsulated in its launch fairings. Photo: courtesy of the Lockheed Martin Corporation.