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CHIPS Articles: All Systems Go for Navy's Communications Satellite Launch Jan. 20

All Systems Go for Navy's Communications Satellite Launch Jan. 20
By Steven A. Davis, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Public Affairs - January 20, 2015
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NNS) -- Final preparations are underway to launch the Navy's latest communications satellite that will significantly improve capability for Navy and Department of Defense tactical operators.

The launch of an Atlas V rocket carrying the MUOS-3 payload for the U.S. Navy is set to lift off Jan. 20 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is 7:43 to 8:27 p.m. EST. Viewers can watch the live launch webcast via the United Launch Alliance website at beginning at 7:23 p.m. EST.

The third satellite is part of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), which operates like a smartphone network from space, vastly improving secure satellite communications for mobile U.S. forces. Unlike its predecessor system, MUOS provides users a global, on-demand, beyond-line-of-sight capability to transmit and receive high-quality voice and mission data from a high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.

"The MUOS satellite has two payloads. It has a legacy payload that supports the current user base of 200,000 plus terminals worldwide, as well as the future payload that is like modern cellphone technology. This allows for a smooth transition between the current and near future capability," said Navy Capt. Joe Kan, MUOS program manager.

Kan noted that while launching satellites and deploying ground systems are key milestones, the program's highlight will be when the Navy turns the system over to U.S. Strategic Command for operations. The next generation of warfighters will find innovative ways of using it that the system designers had never conceived.

MUOS provides secure communications between warfighters around the globe, as well as connection with classified and unclassified networks and DoD phone systems. This capability directly impacts dismounted, ground-based mobile users who require secure voice and mission data but is also available to ships, aircraft and vehicles.

MUOS is more than just a five-satellite constellation. It additionally comprises four ground stations across the globe, complex software to manage the network and a Wideband Code Division Multiple Access waveform that serves as an interface for end-user radios.

Two MUOS satellites, launched in 2012 and 2013, are already providing legacy communications capability from their geosynchronous orbit locations 22,000 miles above Earth. Ultimately, the satellite constellation and associated network will extend narrowband communications availability well past 2025.

The Navy plays a key role in national space efforts by providing narrowband satellite communications for the DoD and other government agencies. The Navy's Program Executive Office for Space Systems, located at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, is responsible for the MUOS program.

Additional imagery, videos and launch coverage can be found at the MUOS-3 webpage here

For more news from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, visit

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (Dec. 30, 2014) The third Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite is encapsulated into its payload fairing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The MUOS-3 launch window is 7:43 to 8:27 p.m. EST Jan. 20. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin.
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