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Pentagon's Upgraded WGS-8 Satellite Worth $425M Hits Space This December

Dec 05, 2016 04:44 AM EST
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In a press call on Nov. 29, US Air Force officials announced the agency is all set to launch its first upgraded Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellite on Dec. 7.

The eighth among Pentagon's string of communication satellites into orbit, WGS-8 features an upgraded technology that will allow it to carry more traffic than earlier WGS satellite versions, Space Flight Insider reports.

The WGS-8 satellite, Thomas Becht, SMC's deputy director for MILSATCOM Systems, said is capable of broadcast, multicast, and point-to-point connections anytime at anywhere around the world; supporting X- and Ka- band communications simultaneously and seamlessly connect the two bands; and has several spot beams that help resolve issues of jamming attempts.

The $425 million satellite also boasts of 45 percent bigger bandwidth compared to all its predecessors. WGS-8 has been upgraded with a digital channelizer to ensure clearer and more efficient communication.

In an article by Space News, according to information from WGS prime contractor Boeing, the channelizer splits uplink bandwidth into 1,900 sub-channels, giving communications more routes for transmission. In 2012, the US Air Force added $111 million to Boeing Satellite System's contract to accommodate the fitting of the digital channelizer to WGS-8 and WGS-9. WGS-10 will also have the same digital channelizer upgrade from Boeing, which reportedly costs roughly $340 million.

The WGS-8 will be launched via a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket and will take off from Complex 37 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch will be between 6:53 p.m. and 7:42 p.m. EST, officials say. All WGS satellites are built to last for 14 years.

The US military is looking to have 10 WGS satellites up into orbit by 2019, with two already scheduled for launch. "There is an enormous demand from the warfighter for satellite communications," Attanasio added. "Unfortunately 10 dedicated satellites isn't enough to meet that demand," Space.com writes.

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