WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy successfully launched the first Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) communications satellite Feb. 24 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard an Atlas 5 rocket.

After a week of weather-related delays, MUOS-1 finally lifted off from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 41 at 5:15 p.m. EDT and reached geosynchronous transfer orbit a few hours later. The satellite will use its on-board propulsion to climb to its geosynchronous perch some 36,000 kilometers above the equator. Steve Tatum, a spokesman for MUOS prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space Systems, said Feb. 27 that MUOS-1 is expected to reach geosynchronous orbit on or about March 5.

The satellite is the first of five MUOS craft the Navy plans to launch over the next several years to augment and eventually replace the military’s existing UHF satellites, which provide tactical narrowband communications for U.S. forces on the move.

MUOS-1 will undergo several months of on-orbit testing before being turned over this summer to the Naval Satellite Operations Command in Point Mugu, Calif., according to a Navy statement issued after the launch.

A second MUOS satellite is undergoing thermal vacuum testing at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, Calif., facility and is scheduled for launch in early 2013. The Navy expects the MUOS constellation, which will consist of four satellites plus an on-orbit spare, to achieve initial operational capability in 2015 and provide narrowband service beyond 2025.



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