Lockheed Martin has successfully completed thermal vacuum testing on the US Navy’s fourth mobile-user objective system (MUOS) satellite, paving the way for final integrated system testing before its launch next year.
The testing follows the recent shipping of the navy’s third MUOS satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in preparation of its January launch.
Lockheed Martin Narrowband Communications mission area vice-president Iris Bombelyn said: "The successful completion of thermal vacuum testing assures that MUOS-4 can endure the extreme hot and cold temperatures it will experience throughout its on-orbit mission life.
"The delivery of this fixed-price vehicle shows a clear advantage for block buys to drive down defects and maintain low costs through learning curve advantages."
During the testing, undertaken at the company’s Sunnyvale, California, US, satellite integration facility, the satellite was exposed to extreme hot and cold temperatures in a dual-entry large thermal altitude chamber, simulating the atmospheres it will experience during its operational life.
Operating as a smartphone cell tower in the sky, the latest satellite will provide MUOS Wideband Code Division Multiple Access technology users with the ability to broadcast and receive voice and data through an internet protocol-based system.
After its launch next year, the MUOS-4 satellite will complete the operational constellation and deliver mobile soldiers with global network coverage.
Lockheed is the prime contractor and system integrator, while US Navy’s Program Executive Office for Space Systems and its Communications Satellite Program Office are responsible for the overall MUOS programme.
Lockheed has already delivered MUOS-3, which is set for launch in January 2015. MUOS-1 and MUOS-2 were launched and successfully handed over to the navy for operations in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
MUOS-5 is expected to be launched in 2016.
Image: Lockheed recently delivered the MUOS-3 secure communications satellite to the US Navy. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.