Last week, the United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket took to the air with a very special delivery: a $566 million, Boeing –built WGS 7 military communications satellite. After the successful launch and assent to 273 miles above the Earth, the satellite was released into orbit and will continue to its high point, over 41,000 miles above the equator. The WGS 7 is the seventh and latest addition to the planned update of 10 communications stations that will replace older Defense Satellite Communications System spacecraft. Why is the update taking place?
Image Source: CBS News
“The solar-powered satellite features eight steerable X-band beams and 10 Ka-band beams covering 19 independent coverage areas with data transmissions speeds up to 3.6 gigabits per second. The satellites handle a wide variety of communications chores ranging from relaying maps and data to soldiers in the field, to video from remotely piloted drones, voice calls and data messaging. They also relay email and television broadcasts to troops in the field. ‘Our forces need communications,’ Rico Attanasio, Boeing director of Military Satellite Communications, told reporters before launch. ‘It’s a fundamental need, and it simply has to be there. More and more, WGS is what puts it there.’”