ULA launches 10th WGS comms satellite for U.S. military

March 15 (UPI) — United Launch Alliance launched a communications satellite for the United States Air Force on Friday evening at 8:26 p.m. EST.

ULA’s Delta IV rocket had a successful launch and jettisoned its liquid rocket motors on time as it entered the atmosphere.

Just a few minutes after liftoff, the first and second stages separated. The rocket’s second stage executed a series of engine burns to properly position the payload.

After a technical glitch delayed proceedings, ULA released a new liftoff target of 7:52 p.m. Just minutes later, ULA announced a problem with NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System “will delay liftoff beyond our new … launch time.”

After fixing the TDRSS problem, ULA was able to proceed with the launch.

ULA has now delivered 10 WGS satellites into space for the Air Force.

“ULA is proud to be the exclusive launch provider for all ten WGS missions,” Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of government and commercial programs, said in a news release. “Our focus on mission success continually demonstrates that safely and reliably delivering these critical national assets is our highest priority.”

The Boeing-built WGS satellites provide extensive communications coverage across a full spectrum of bandwidths. The Department of Defense depends on the WGS system to communicate with warfighters across the globe.

The WGS constellation, which provides service in the X and Ka bands, is much more powerful than previous systems. According to the U.S. Air Force, just one of the ten new WGS satellites — the first of which was launched in 2007 — can provide more satellite communications capacity than the entire legacy Defense Satellite Communications System.

According to Florida Today, Friday’s launch will be the second to last for the medium class Delta IV, which the company is phasing out.

ULA is scheduled to launch a GPS satellite in late July — the final mission for the “single stick” Delta IV rocket.

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Science News – UPI.com

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