U.S. Navy accepts fourth MUOS satellite
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — It has been some three months since the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System 4 (MUOS-4) satellite lifted off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41). On Nov. 30, it was announced that the Navy had accepted the Lockheed Martin-produced spacecraft after the successful completion of on-orbit testing.
“MUOS-4 completes the initial constellation, providing the MUOS network with nearly global coverage. Mobile forces, equipped with MUOS terminals, will soon be able to communicate with each other – including voice, data and exchanging imagery – real-time, virtually anywhere on the Earth,” said Iris Bombelyn, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for Narrowband Communications. “This is a tremendous upgrade in communications capabilities over what currently exists for our nation and our allies.”
MUOS will be composed of a constellation of five satellites on orbit as well as four ground stations and is designed to serve as a replacement to the Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UFO) system. This new constellation will provide military forces with a secure means of communications at points across the globe. Most important of all, it will allow the system’s users to transmit beyond line-of-sight.
The MUOS-4 satellite is scheduled to be relocated in Spring of 2016 to its on-orbit, operational slot. According to a statement released by the spacecraft’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, from there it will provide cellular-based capabilities include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data, over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.
The first of the MUOS spacecraft was launched from the Cape in 2012, with the second being sent aloft in 2013 and the third and fourth being launched this year (2015). An on-orbit spare, the last spacecraft of the fleet, is currently scheduled for launch in 2016.
It is hoped that, once operational, MUOS will provide as much as 16 times the capacity of the legacy ultra high frequency communications satellite system. MUOS will initially support, then replace the existing system. More than 55,000 field radio terminals can be upgraded to be compatible with this new system – with some just needing a software upgrade.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.