June 24, 2016 – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the MUOS-5 satellite for the U.S. Navy. The rocket lifted off from the Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, June 24 at 8:30 a.m. EDT.
“We are honored to deliver the final satellite in the MUOS constellation for the U.S. Navy,” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president, Custom Services. “Congratulations to our navy, air force and Lockheed Martin mission partners on yet another successful launch that provides our warfighters with enhanced communications capabilities to safely and effectively conduct their missions around the globe.”
Built by Lcckheed Martin, MUOS-5 completes the satellite constellation that will provide a new global military cellular network offering enhanced communications capabilities for mobile forces worldwide. Lockheed Martin assembled and tested all five now-on-orbit MUOS satellites at its Sunnyvale, California, facility.
“The launch of MUOS-5 is a major milestone. MUOS will be a game changer in communications for our service men and women on the front lines around the world,” said Mark Woempner, director of Narrowband Communications Systems at Lockheed Martin. “Now that the Navy’s constellation is complete, we will continue to work with our government and industry teammates to further refine MUOS based on user feedback. We are committed to bringing all of MUOS’ advanced capabilities to our warfighters.”
For the Navy, MUOS-5 completes a network of orbiting satellites and relay ground stations that is revolutionizing secure communications for mobile military forces. MUOS’ new smart phone-like capabilities will provide safe and secure communications across the globe, through rough terrain and extended communications reach to the Polar Regions. MUOS’ capabilities include simultaneous, crystal-clear voice, video and mission data over a secure high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.
“Users of the legacy satellite communications system can ‘talk’, but they are limited to conversations between users under the footprint of the same satellite,” explains Woempner. “MUOS is a game-changer for our forces, establishing a global military cellular network through which they can reach out to each other – and exchange mission data – almost anywhere around the world.”
Once fully operational, the MUOS network will provide users with 16 times more communication 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.
A Lockheed Martin-led team, stationed at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California, is operating the satellite from its transfer orbit to its test slot. Over the next few days, MUOS-5 will transition to reach its geosynchronous orbit location approximately 22,000 miles (37,586 km) above the Earth. The satellite’s solar arrays and antennas will then be deployed, and on-orbit testing will start for subsequent turn-over to the Navy for testing and commissioning to serving.
Lockheed Martin invited six students to watch the MUOS-5 launch. Earlier this year, the students competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition and the FIRST Tech Challenge and were Dean’s List winners from each of the three Florida FIRST championship events. The students met Lockheed Martin’s launch team, where they showcased their robots and later attended a photo opportunity to see the Atlas V rocket up close before the launch.
Mounted aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket standing 206 feet tall, the 15,000 pound MUOS-5 payload was launched with over two-and-a-half million pounds of thrust on the way to its final location above the Indian Ocean.
The mission was ULA’s fifth launch in 2016 and 108th launch since the company formed in 2006. MUOS-5 was the seventh mission to be launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Vehicle (EELV) 551 configuration, which includes a 5-meter diameter payload fairing and five solid rocket boosters. The other missions launched in this powerful configuration include the four previous MUOS missions, as well as the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Juno mission to Jupiter.
The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMBROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.
“I am so proud of this team for all their hard work and commitment to 100 percent mission success,” Maginnis said. “It is amazing to deliver our second national security payload from the Cape in just two weeks. I know this success is due to our amazing people who make the remarkable look routine.”
ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V NROL-61 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office, scheduled for July 28 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.