Friday, July 24, 2015

United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches WGS-7 Satellite

A Delta IV rocket lifts off carrying the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM satellite for the U.S. Air Force. Credit: ULA

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully launched the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force at 8:07 p.m. EDT Thursday from Space Launch Complex-37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. “Kudos to the Air Force and all of our mission partners on today’s successful launch and orbital delivery of the WGS-7 satellite. The ULA team is honored to work with these premier U.S. government and industry mission teammates and to contribute to the WGS enhanced communications capabilities to the warfighter,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “The team continues to emphasize reliability, and one launch at a time focus on mission success to meet our customer’s needs.”

This is ULA’s seventh launch in 2015 and the second successful ULA launch in just eight days. It marks ULA’s 98th successful one-at-a-time launch since the company was formed in December 2006. 

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Medium-plus (5,4) configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) using a single ULA common booster core powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A main engine, along with four Orbital ATK GEM-60 solid rocket motors. The upper stage was powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10B-2 engine with the satellite encapsulated in a five-meter-diameter composite payload fairing.

"Aerojet Rocketdyne is honored to have powered this critical spacecraft into orbit for the U.S. Air Force," said Steve Bouley, vice president of Space Launch Systems at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "The seamless integration of our propulsion systems, from launch to orbit insertion, culminated in another successful launch."

After the upper-stage separated from the launch vehicle, a single RL10B-2 engine ignited to provide 24,750 pounds of thrust to power the upper stage into orbit. For more than five decades, the RL10 has been one of the United States’ most reliable upper-stage engines, accumulating one of the most impressive lists of accomplishments in the history of space propulsion. It has played an integral role in placing numerous military, government and commercial satellites into orbit, and powering space-probe missions to nearly every planet in the solar system.

Col. Shawn Fairhurst, 45th Space Wing Vice Commander, praised the entire, mission-focused team on the outstanding results - only seven days following the successful launch of GPS-10 aboard an Atlas V on July 15.

"Today's successful launch culminated months of impressive effort from a combined team of professionals from the 45th Space Wing, the Space and Missile Systems Center, United Launch Alliance, Boeing, our industry and mission partners," said Fairhurst. "I commend everyone involved in this WGS-7 launch.

"Once again the men and women of Team Patrick-Cape provided assured Space Launch, Range and Combat Capabilities for the Nation, further solidifying Cape Canaveral as the World's Premier Gateway to Space" he said.

Wideband Global SATCOM provides anytime, anywhere communication for the warfighter through broadcast, multicast and point to point connections. WGS provides essential communications services, allowing Combatant Commanders to exert command and control of their tactical forces, from peace time to military operations. WGS is the only military satellite communications system that can support simultaneous X and Ka band communications.

ULA's next launch is the Atlas V MUOS-4 mission for the United States Navy, scheduled for August 31 from Space Launch Complex-41 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the United States Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.

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