United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket launched the ninth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) space mission for the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, March 18. The 22-story payload lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The launch, which was broadcasted live on YouTube and ULA's official website, reportedly experienced a 34-minute delay because of a glitch with its ground support equipment.
Check out the highlights of WGS-9's launch.
The Penultimate: WGS-9 US Military Satellite
The WGS-9, which has a jaw-dropping price tag of $445 million, is the second to last in the 10-fleet state-of-the art satellite communication system for the U.S. military.
Once in its target position at approximately 22,000 miles above the equator, the latest addition to the advanced WGS network is expected to take the country's military communication service to a whole new level — transmitting real-time television broadcasts and video conferences and high-bandwidth data to and from U.S. Air Force ships, aircraft, ground troops, operations centers, the U.S. Department of State, the White House, and various allies from around the world.
International partners are allowed proportional access to the bandwidth provided by the WGS constellation based on financial contribution, according to the Air Force.
Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and New Zealand shared a total of $442 million to produce WGS-9. Australia, on the other hand, paid a part of the 2013 WGS-6 project.
WGS-10 is currently in the works with a target launch of 2019.
X-band And Ka-band Support
WGS satellites support both X-band (weather monitoring, air and marine vessel traffic control, defense tracking, and vehicle speed monitoring) and Ka-band (close-range targeting on military aircraft) radar frequencies. The satellite can support 8.088 gigahertz of bandwidth, with an expected downlink speed of up to 11 Gbps.
"WGS provides anytime, anywhere communications for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and international partnership through broadcast, multicast, and point-to-point connections," Robert Tarleton, director of the Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate at Air Force Space Command in Los Angeles, said.
WGS Program And Delta IV
The mission marks the seventh flight of the Delta IV in the Medium+ (5,4) configuration for the WGS-9 mission and its 35th launch since its inauguration in 2002. It has launched all WGS satellites in orbit today.
The Boeing Co. was awarded the first contract to develop the WGS system, which initially proposed two satellites, in 2001.
With its expendable launch vehicles Atlas and Delta, it has facilitated numerous U.S. government space missions in the last five decades. The U.S. Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Reconnaissance Office, and the U.S. Air Force are among the prominent organizations in its launch portfolio.
The United Launch Alliance is a 50-50 venture between the Lockheed Martin Corp. and the Boeing Co., established in 2006.