CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The Navy's second Mobile User Objective System satellite was launched July 19 at 9:00 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41. The successful launch represents a key step in providing enhanced satellite communications for the Navy and Department of Defense (DoD). MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system designed to significantly improve beyond-line-of-sight communications for U.S. forces on the move. MUOS will provide military users 10 times more communications capacity over the existing system by leveraging 3G mobile technology, including simultaneous voice and data capability. "The MUOS-2 launch is an especially significant event for the program because not only are we launching the second satellite, but the ground system, the networking software and the waveform are all aligning at the same time," explained Navy Cmdr. Matt Bohlin, the MUOS principal assistant program manager. "With MUOS-2 on-orbit this fall, we'll be testing the full system with all the new capabilities that it brings to the warfighter."
The first MUOS satellite, launched in February 2012 and accepted for operational use by U.S. Strategic Command in November, has been providing high quality voice communications for users. The Navy plays a key role in national space efforts by providing narrowband satellite communications for the DoD and other government agencies. MUOS satellite communications capability is designed for mobile users who require high-speed mission data with higher data rates and improved operational availability. Bohlin says users requiring these essential services will soon see significantly improved benefits when the full system suite comes on-line.
"Users are going to notice more bandwidth that is accessible on demand as opposed to preplanned channels, better voice quality and better connectivity while not being impacted by remote regions, urban environments or inclement weather." he said. "It will be a revolutionary leap for satellite communications for DoD." With current capability, tactical users have limited access to narrowband satellite communications, and channels must be preplanned and allocated. Additionally, dismounted users had to be stationary to acquire the satellite.
With MUOS, users will have access on demand and be able to use the service while on the move and in all environments and weather to talk to beyond-line-of-sight recipients, whether they are on the other side of a mountain or the other side of the world. Services will also be available for platforms such as ships, aircraft and vehicles. Over the next several days, the satellite, which functions much like a cell tower in space, will transition to its geosynchronous orbit location 22,000 miles above the earth. Its solar arrays and mesh antennas will then be deployed and on-orbit testing will begin for eventual commissioning into service.
The constellation of four satellites and one on-orbit spare will extend narrowband communications availability well past 2025. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, the Navy's Program Executive Office for Space Systems, Chantilly, Va., and its Communications Satellite Program Office, San Diego, are responsible for the MUOS program.