WGS-10 communications satellite accepted into operational constellation

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Boeing verified the performance of WGS-10 and handed control of the satellite to the Air Force on July 10.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Space Command on Nov. 19 accepted the 10th and newest satellite of the Wideband Global Satcom constellation, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Centers announced Nov. 26.

The $424 million WGS-10 was launched March 15 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 medium rocket.

Manufacturer Boeing verified the performance of WGS-10 and handed control of the satellite to the Air Force on July 10. On-orbit testing was done by a team of Air Force, Army and Navy engineers and operators. The team tested the satellite’s anti-jam capabilities, and other cybersecurity techniques and procedures that will be incorporated into the entire WGS constellation, said Lt. Connor MacMillan, WGS test lead.

U.S. Space Command will soon begin to transition users to the new satellite, SMC said.

The WGS constellation provides broadband communications for the U.S. military and allies. International partners in the WGS program include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and New Zealand. The satellites are compatible with more than 15,000 terminals currently in use.

WGS satellites are operated by the U.S. Air Force’s 4th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Army soldiers from the 53rd Signal Battalion manage five Wideband Satcom Operations Centers where they control the WGS payloads.

WGS-10 was expected to be the last satellite of the constellation. But Congress in 2018 inserted funding in the Pentagon’s budget for additional satellites. The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is acquiring a more advanced WGS spacecraft, dubbed WGS-11+. The Air Force and Boeing are still negotiating the terms of a $605 million deal the company was awarded in April to produce the satellite.