WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin has completed and delivered a new software waveform that will enable the U.S. Navy to get the most out of a new generation of mobile communications satellites that it began launching last year, the company announced Jan. 8.

The waveform, which was not ready when the first Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite was launched in February, will enable users to take full advantage of the cellphone-like netted communications capabilities of the new constellation. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems is building five MUOS satellites — one of which is a spare — under a Navy contract, initially valued at $2.1 billion, that was awarded in 2004.

The MUOS system will use a technology called Wideband Code Division Multiple Access to provide links to mobile U.S. forces, including ships at sea and squadrons operating in hard-to-reach locations such as beneath forest canopies. The system, which replaces the aging UHF Follow-On constellation and includes a legacy UHF payload, has encountered technical challenges that have led to delays and cost growth.

In a press release, Lockheed Martin said the newly delivered waveform was adapted from a previously commercial waveform. The Navy has made the waveform available to builders of radios designed to operate over the Mobile User Objective System, which is expected to deliver a 16-fold capacity increase over the legacy constellation, the press release said.

The second MUOS satellite is slated for launch in July. Once that spacecraft has cleared on-orbit testing and demonstrated the new waveform with the ground system and terminals, the system’s full capabilities will be available to users within the coverage area.

Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the spacenews.com Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...