Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Atlas V Successfully Launches the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System-4 Satellite

An Atlas V rocket carrying the MUOS-4 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 on Sept. 2, 2015. Credit: ULA

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the fourth Mobile User Objective System satellite for the U.S. Navy launched from Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:18 a.m. EDT today. The MUOS-4 spacecraft will bring advanced, new, global communications capabilities to mobile military forces, as well as ensure continued mission capability of the existing Ultra High Frequency satellite communications system. This is ULA’s eighth launch in 2015, the second MUOS satellite launched in 2015 and ULA’s 99th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

“The ULA team is proud to support the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force by delivering this critical communications asset to orbit today,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “Today’s successful launch will enable the MUOS constellation to reach global coverage. The Lockheed Martin-built MUOS-4 satellite will deliver voice, data, and video communications capability, similar to a cellular network, to our troops all over the globe.”

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 551 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter diameter payload fairing along with five Aerojet Rocketdyne solid rocket motors attached to the Atlas booster. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine. 

"Here at the 45th we measure success one launch at a time," said Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, the U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing commander. "With this being my first launch as the 45th SW Commander, I can tell you the road to achieving that success is no small task. It takes a blended team of military, civilian and contracted professionals driving toward the same objective of getting that rocket into space. I am proud of the hard work our team put into today's launch and it goes without saying that there's nothing more exciting than being a part of a team that provides assured access to space...that's our charge. We did it today, we'll do it tomorrow and there's nothing quite like it. Great work team."

The U.S. Navy’s MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system designed using a combination of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations to significantly improve communications for U.S. forces on the move. MUOS will provide new beyond-line-of-sight communications capabilities, with smartphone-like simultaneous voice, video and data – to connect military users almost anywhere around the globe.

"Delivery of this fourth satellite for the U.S. Navy completes the initial MUOS constellation and provides near-global coverage for the network," said Iris Bombelyn, vice president of Narrowband Communications at Lockheed Martin. "For our mobile forces, that means for the first time they will be able to have secure, high-fidelity voice conversations, networked team calls and data exchange, including video, with anyone around the world connected with a MUOS terminal."

ULA's next launch is the Atlas V Morelos-3, communications satellite for Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes, a government agency of Mexico, scheduled for Oct. 2 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. 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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