ULA Awarded $150M for Wideband Global Launch

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The U.S. Air Force has awarded $150 million to Denver-based United Launch Alliance (ULA) for the launch of the fifth in its series of Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) military communications satellites, the Pentagon said in a Nov. 28 contract announcement.

WGS-5, built by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, is the second Block 2 model of the series, and will be launched by a Delta 4 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., in late 2012 or early 2013, ULA spokesman Chris S. Chavez said.

The satellite will provide X- and Ka-band communications as part of a planned eight-satellite constellation that is replacing the aging Defense Satellite Communications System. Three WGS satellites have been launched so far, the latest in December 2009. WGS-4, the first Block 2 model, is scheduled for launch Jan. 19, Chavez said.

The award is a modification to a three-launch, $575 million contract originally awarded May 6, Tracy A. Bunko, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in an emailed response to questions.  ULA, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture, was tasked to launch the Mobile User Objective System 2 communications satellite, WGS-6, and a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office dubbed Launch 65. The original contract did not cover the WGS-5 launch.