Spaceflight Insider

MUOS-5 Now Supporting Troops with UHF Communications

A MUOS satellite in space.The MUOS-5 satellite is now providing secure UHF telecommunications to U.S. and allied mobile forces.

An artist’s rendering of a U.S. Navy Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite in space. The MUOS-5 satellite is now providing secure UHF telecommunications to U.S. and allied mobile forces. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

The fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) satellite is now delivering secure communications to troops using its Ultra High Frequency (UHF) telecommunications system. This comes as the U.S. Navy, partnered with the Army Forces Strategic Command, have worked to bring MUOS-5 into operation after it successfully completed on-orbit testing on January 19, 2017.


MUOS-5 at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California, satellite manufacturing facility prior to its rescheduled June 24, 2016, launch. (Click to enlarge) Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

Narrowband UHF communications are utilized in a variety of military operations but will eventually transition to next generation Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) capabilities. To facilitate the transition to WCDMA, MUOS-5 was designed with two communications payloads to support both WCDMA and UHF.

“Each MUOS satellite can simultaneously support both new WCDMA waveform capabilities and legacy UHF satellite communications,” explained Mark Woempner, director of Narrowband Communications Systems at Lockheed Martin. “With MUOS 1–4 already on orbit providing near global WCDMA coverage, MUOS-5 will actively support legacy UHF communications and serve as an on-orbit WCDMA spare.”

In providing the next generation of communication capabilities to troops on the ground, MUOS-5 allows users to connect beyond line-of-sight around the world into the Global Information Grid and Defense Switched Network. They are also able to access crystal-clear voice, video, and data transmissions using a secure high-speed Internet connection.

As MUOS becomes fully operational, users will have access to more than 10 times the communications capacity of the legacy system it is replacing. In providing near-global coverage, including to polar regions, it has demonstrated the successful delivery of Integrated Broadcast Service (IBS) messages to in-flight aircraft.

“The industry team for MUOS is an incredible partnership. Next for MUOS, we are laser-focused on bringing the complete system to full operational capability for the Navy,” said Woempner. “Early combatant commander testing began in July 2016, and we have already received valuable user feedback and are working to rapidly incorporate their needs into the system.”

MUOS-5 has been transitioning to full operations after it successfully reached its intended orbit on October 30, 2016. This came after experiencing an anomaly with its orbit-raising propulsion system following its June 24, 2016, launch.



Paul is currently a graduate student in Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Akransas in Fayetteville. He grew up in the Kansas City area and developed an interest in space at a young age at the start of the twin Mars Exploration Rover missions in 2003. He began his studies in aerospace engineering before switching over to geology at Wichita State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 2013. After working as an environmental geologist for a civil engineering firm, he began his graduate studies in 2016 and is actively working towards a PhD that will focus on the surficial processes of Mars. He also participated in a 2-week simluation at The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in 2014 and remains involved in analogue mission studies today. Paul has been interested in science outreach and communication over the years which in the past included maintaining a personal blog on space exploration from high school through his undergraduate career and in recent years he has given talks at schools and other organizations over the topics of geology and space. He is excited to bring his experience as a geologist and scientist to the Spaceflight Insider team writing primarily on space science topics.

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