MUOS satellite launch

The US Navy has successfully launched its third mobile-user objective system (MUOS-3) satellite on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) 551, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Space Launch Complex 41.

The Lockheed Martin-built satellite has also responded to subsequent commands.

It is being operated by the company’s initialisation team from the Naval Satellite Operations Center at the Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California, US.

US Navy MUOS programme manager captain Joe Kan said: "This MUOS-3 launch is another major milestone to achieving the next-generation of global tactical satellite communications capability for the (US) Department of Defense (DoD)."

Prior to achieving full operational capability in 2017, the system will go through multiservice operational test and evaluation in December, after which it will join MUOS 1 and 2 to deliver communications coverage to more than three-quarters of the world.

Lockheed Martin Narrowband Communications vice-president Iris Bombelyn said: "The addition of this satellite will give the MUOS constellation coverage over more than three-quarters of the globe, further extending the reach of the advanced communications capabilities MUOS will provide [to] our mobile warfighters."

"This MUOS-3 launch is another major milestone."

Aimed at replacing the ultra-high frequency (UHF) follow-on system, MUOS will provide 16 times the capacity of the legacy system.

Operating as a smartphone network in the sky, the MUOS programme aims to improving existing mobile satellite communications for soldiers on on-the-go missions.

It comprises four ground stations worldwide, in addition to complex software, to address the network, as well as a wideband code division multiple access waveform, which operates as an interface for end-user radios.

Furthermore, the satellites allow users to access on-demand, beyond-line-of-sight potential to broadcast and receive high-class, prioritised voice and mission data on a high-speed internet protocol-based system.

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