US Navy completes preparations to launch MUOS 5

The U.S. Navy is set to launch its fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite on June 24, during a window from 10:30-11:14 a.m. EDT.

An on-orbit spare that will complete the five-satellite constellation will be launched by the Navy Communications Satellite Program Office (PMW 146) in partnership with the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and the 45th Space Wing.

According to the U.S. Navy, the narrowband tactical satellite communications system is designed to improve ground communications for U.S. forces on the move via an Internet Protocol-based system, equipping tactical and mobile warfighters with cell phone-like capabilities such as crystal-clear voice quality, excellent call completion rates and the ability to use voice and data simultaneously.

“With this fifth satellite, MUOS completes the current constellation bringing additional UHF (ultra-high frequency) capacity, as well as providing the assurance of an on-orbit spare for the new Wideband Code Division Multiple Access capability,” said Capt. Joe Kan, PMW 146 program manager.

MUOS is operational today, supporting unrestricted operations via the satellites’ legacy payloads that provide ultra-high frequency satellite communications for the DoD and mitigate potential gaps in UHF communications capabilities.

The system’s wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) capability has been demonstrated through exercises with warfighters on terminal platforms from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy–to include troops on the move, C-17 aircraft in flight, Coast Guard vessels in the north and south polar regions and the Navy’s OE-538 submarine antenna.

The first four MUOS satellites are in their operational slots and providing legacy communications capability from their geosynchronous orbits. The MUOS constellation and associated network will extend narrowband communications availability well past 2025, the navy said.

“As legacy communications systems continue to age, we recognize the imperative to continue maturing MUOS WCDMA and support terminal development, testing, certification and fielding efforts to deliver end-to-end MUOS WCDMA capability,” said Jarratt Mowery, director of end-to-end system testing.