US Navy manages to get MUOS-5 satellite into operational orbit

Following an earlier failure, the fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite has reached operational orbit and has successfully deployed its arrays and antennas, the U.S. Navy said.

MUOS-5 launched June 24 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station but a failure in the satellite’s orbit raising propulsion system prevented it from reaching the geosynchronous test orbit.

The MUOS team ensured the satellite remained stable, safe, and under positive control while it investigated the issue and examined options.

On Oct. 22, the team raised the MUOS-5 satellite to an operationally-suitable orbit. A series of deployments of the satellite’s solar arrays and antennas were completed thereafter, with the last occurring successfully Oct. 30, according to the U.S. Navy.

MUOS-5 has now begun on-orbit testing after which it will complete the five-satellite MUOS constellation.

“Working together with industry, we were able to execute an alternative propulsion method to maneuver MUOS-5 to reach a position that is operationally suitable,” said Capt. Joe Kan, program manager for the Navy Communications Satellite Program Office.

“The system will undergo on-orbit testing before final acceptance of the system by the Navy and offering it up for operational use,” said Cmdr. Jason Pratt, MUOS principal assistant program manager. “The satellite and its payloads will go through rigorous tests with our ground systems and terminals to make sure everything operates properly.”

According to the navy, the MUOS system is designed to provide improved communications capabilities to users around the world, regardless of where they are in relation to a satellite. The MUOS constellation and associated ground network will provide 3G-like cellphone communications for the next decade and beyond.