The Navy’s fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite launched at 10:30 a.m. EDT, June 24, from Space Launch Complex 41 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in the 551 launch vehicle configuration.
MUOS-5 is an on-orbit spare and the final satellite in the five-satellite MUOS constellation. The satellite is successfully responding to commands from a Navy and Lockheed Martin team operating MUOS-5 from the Naval Satellite Operations Center, Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California.
“As we celebrate the successful launch of MUOS 5 — it’s similar to commissioning a ship, as our MUOS team begins to bring the satellite to life — it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the work it took to get here,” said Rear Adm. Christian Becker, Program Executive Officer Space Systems. “From the thousands of members of our industry team who built this amazing capability, to our Air Force partners who delivered us safely to orbit, to our Army shipmates who are part of the team delivering end-to-end communications to the joint warfighter: Thank you! We are looking forward to the continued successful shakedown of the system and full delivery into operations.”
MUOS is an Internet Protocol-based system designed to provide improved communications capabilities to users around the world, regardless of where they are in relation to a satellite, and will provide greater than 10 times the bandwidth capacity compared with the current ultra-high frequency (UHF) constellation.
“The MUOS Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) system provides significantly increased capacity and coverage, superior voice quality and Internet-like capabilities, enabling warfighters the flexibility to better communicate what they need to, when they need to,” said Capt. Joe Kan, program manager for the Navy Communications Satellite Program Office (PMW 146).
The MUOS-5 satellite is now in transit toward its geosynchronous orbit location, where it will then deploy its solar arrays and antennas.
“MUOS-5 will be transitioning over the next nine days to reach its test slot 22,000 miles above the earth in a geosynchronous orbit,” said Cmdr. Jason Pratt, principal assistant program manager of MUOS. “Once it has reached its location and deployed its arrays and antennas, on-orbit testing of the satellite will begin.”
MUOS is a system consisting of five satellites, four ground stations across the globe, a network management system and an integrated WCDMA waveform. The first four MUOS satellites are already operational via their legacy payloads, providing UHF satellite communications (SATCOM) for the DoD and mitigating potential gaps in UHF communications capabilities. The system’s WCDMA capability, currently in its test and evaluation stage, employs advanced third-generation cellular technology adapted for military SATCOM.
“Looking forward, we are continuing to focus efforts on transitioning to the WCDMA capability of MUOS,” said Jarratt Mowery, director of end-to-end system integration. “The system first demonstrated WCDMA voice and data calls via the Army’s Manpack radios in 2013, and we’ve since conducted testing and training with each of the various service branches. We’re excited to keep working with end-users to ultimately provide warfighters the ability to talk, text and share data around the world using the MUOS WCDMA system.”
The MUOS constellation and associated network will extend narrowband communications availability well past 2025.
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.