Spaceflight Insider

U.S. Navy accepts control of MUOS-5


The fifth satellite of the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California, satellite manufacturing facility. Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

The Naval Satellite Operations Center (NAVSOC) has accepted operational control of MUOS-5 from Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy’s Communications Satellite Program Office.

The transfer occurred on October 11 following the successful completion of on-orbit testing of MUOS-5 systems. The satellite launched on June 24, 2016, aboard an Atlas V 551 launch vehicle. The satellite carries next-generation Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) capabilities while supporting legacy Ultra High Frequency (UHF) communications.

MUOS-5’s legacy UHF payload was configured for testing in April. The transfer of the satellite to NAVSOC clears the final hurdle allowing Army Forces Strategic Command (ARSTRAT) to configure the payload to support naval legacy UHF communications.

Mark Woempner, Lockheed Martin’s director for Narrowband Communications, commented on the impact of MUOS-5.

“Today, every Combatant Command in aircraft, ships, submarines, ground vehicles, as well as by troops in the field and special operations, rely upon secure, beyond-line-of-sight UHF satellite communications provided by the Navy,” said Woempner. “ARSTAT’s final configuration of MUOS-5’s UHF legacy payload allows the satellite to fully support our military forces in these Combatant Commands.”

MUOS satellites are designed to facilitate the gradual transition from UHF communications to WCDMA. To support this transition, each MUOS satellite is equipped UHF and WCDMA communications payloads. Four ground relay stations complement the five MUOS satellites on orbit. Once WCDMA communications are fully implemented, MUOS satellites will provide more than ten times the capacity of the UHF system.

The transition to the MUOS will be easy. There are currently more than 55,000 radio terminals in the field that only need a software upgrade to be MUOS-compatible. Combatant commander testing of MUOS WCDMA payloads began in July 2016 and has received positive reviews.

“We continue to receive great and constructive feedback on MUOS’ capabilities as more users try it out,” Woempner said. “We continue to make upgrades to the system based on user needs and look forward to bringing its full capabilities to our warfighters.”



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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