June 14, 2016 – The fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite built by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Navy was encapsulated in its protective launch vehicle fairing on June 4. It is scheduled to launch June 24 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
MUOS operates like a smart phone network in the sky, revolutionizing secure mobile satellite communications for warfighters on the move. A network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations allow troops to seamlessly connect beyond line-of-sight and into the Global Information Grid. With MUOS, troops can exchange critical mission data and imagery in real-time, virtually anywhere in the world. Users also have access to simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and data over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.
“Like its predecessors, MUOS-5 has two payloads to support both these new Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform capabilities, as well as the legacy Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite system, used by many mobile forces today,” said Mark Woempner, program director of Lockheed Martin’s Narrowband Communications mission area. “On orbit, MUOS-5 will augment the constellation as a WCDMA spare, while actively supporting the legacy UHF system.”
The MUOS-5 satellite joins four MUOS satellites already on orbit and four operational ground stations, providing near-global coverage including communications deep into polar regions. MUOS-5 will complete the Navy’s baseline constellation. Having an on-orbit spare for the system ensures the network is always available to support U.S. and allied mobile forces.
Once fully operational, MUOS will provide users with 16 times more communications capacity than the legacy system it will eventually replace. More than 55,000 currently fielded radio terminals can be upgraded to be MUOS-compatible, with many of them requiring just a software upgrade.
Lockheed Martin manufactured MUOS-5 at its Sunnyvale, California facility. In March, the satellite shipped to the Cape, where it was pre-launch processed and finally encapsulated at Astrotech Space Operations, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.
The Navy’s Program Executive Office for Space Systems and its Communications Satellite Program Office, San Diego, California, are responsible for the MUOS program.