WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., a $339.6 million contract to build a fifth ultrahigh frequency mobile communications satellite, the company announced Feb. 7.

As Lockheed Martin begins production of the fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) spacecraft, it is working through a series of environmental tests on the first spacecraft in the series, which is scheduled to be delivered in the middle of the year, the press release said. The first satellite is 21 months behind schedule as Lockheed Martin encountered difficulties in mating a payload with the spacecraft platform.

The MUOS constellation will provide narrowband coverage to U.S. military users around the world and Australian defense forces as the result of a 2010 agreement between the nations to share ultrahigh frequency capacity. The system will replace the Navy’s aging Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UFO) constellation. The new spacecraft will feature Boeing-built payloads similar to those of UFO satellites, plus new payloads designed by Lockheed Martin that will dramatically increase throughput. Much of the program’s delay has been attributed to integration problems with the legacy payload, Navy officials have said.

The second MUOS satellite is in production, and engineers will soon mate the communications payloads with the satellite’s propulsion core, the press release said. That satellite is scheduled for delivery in 2012.



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