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Lockheed Martin satellite launched to improve military communications | News

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Lockheed Martin satellite launched to improve military communications
Lockheed Martin satellite launched to improve military communications

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- An advanced Lockheed Martin built satellite was launched into orbit today designed to improve communications for the United States military around the globe.

The U.S. Navy's Mobile User Objective System satellite will provide a stronger coverage area for the military in 3G communications related to data, voice and video services as it orbits from a fixed point in geostationary orbit.

The newly launched MUOS-1 will begin a constellation of five using a faster bandwidth as aircraft and submarines communicate with ground forces using a 14-meter parabolic gold mesh antenna.

Four of the five satellites will be operational by 2015 with the fifth on standby as an on orbit spare, the U.S. Navy confirmed.

"The MUOS will greatly enhance the capabilities of the warfighter to communicate on the move," states Lockheed Martin's MUOS program manager Mark Pasquale. "The system will provide military users 16 times the communications capability of existing satellites."

Mounted a top the Atlas' upper stage known as Centaur, the MUOS is the heaviest payload carried by an Atlas rocket. The launch also marked the 200th launch on this flight with the first occurring fifty years ago.

Lift-off of the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket with the MUOS-1 spacecraft occurred on time at 5:15:01 p.m. EST, from launch complex 41 here at Cape Canaveral.

It was the third launch attempt in the past week as upper level winds and clouds delayed the rocket's mission.

Powered by five solid rocket boosters and a proven RD-180 core stage main engine, the 107-foot tall Atlas pushed skyward with it's heaviest payload to date.

The white and bronze rocket departed America's Space Coast soaring past a few thin clouds and out over the Atlantic waters on a southeasterly path.

As the rocket flew 140 miles over the dark waters of the central Atlantic Ocean, a live television camera sent down amazing images of the single engine and the thruster firing.

The Navy's spacecraft will separate from the Centaur upper stage three hours following lift-off at 8:16 p.m, as it soars high off the Singapore coast.

MUOS-1 will spend the next six months being transferred to it's proper orbit and tested by the Navy prior to it's operation.

The second MUOS is currently undergoing testing fo a planned July 2013 launch from Cape Canaveral.


(Charles Atkeison covers science & technology which impacts Georgia for NBC Atlanta 11Alive.com. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)


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