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Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Navy’s second Mobile User Objective System satellite is scheduled to be launched July 19 from Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida.  
An artist rendering of a U.S. Navy Mobile User Objective System satellite in space. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)
An artist rendering of a U.S. Navy Mobile User Objective System satellite in space. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

The second satellite of the Mobile User Objective System will enable mobile users to communicate securely using smartphone-like features. It will launch in July 2013 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)
The second satellite of the Mobile User Objective System will enable mobile users to communicate securely using smartphone-like features. It will launch in July 2013 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)
MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical communications system designed to improve communications for U.S. forces on the move. This launch is therefore important because the MUOS satellite constellation will ultimately provide users with 10 times more communications capacity over the existing system by leveraging 3G mobile communications technology and simultaneous voice and data capability.
You might ask, what exactly is the Navy’s role in space, what capability do we bring to the table for our nation, and what does this (narrowband tactical communications) mean?
The U.S. Navy is responsible for providing narrowband satellite communication for the Department of Defense and U.S. Fleet Cyber Command is assigned to serve as the Navy component command to U.S. Strategic Command for space, cyberspace and information operations.
So, the Navy provides this capability for DOD under the operational auspices of the Fleet Cyber Command team. The MUOS program is managed by our teammates at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, theNavy’s Program Executive Office for Space Systems, Chantilly, Va., and its Communications Satellite Program Office in San Diego, Calif.
Now, as to the question of what narrowband tactical communications means, in addition to providing continuous, beyond line of sight communication for all branches of the U.S. military, the Navy delivered space-based narrowband capability that MUOS provides also ensures reliable worldwide coverage for national emergency assistance, disaster response and humanitarian relief.
From its orbit above earth, the MUOS-2 satellite will cover approximately a third of Earth’s surface and provide users with improved connectivity in stressed environments such as congested urban areas, mountains, jungles and during inclement weather.
Thus, whether our service members are on ships; in submarines, aircraft, or vehicles; or carrying radios while dismounted and on the move, MUOS is designed to bring them dedicated, on-demand and secure voice and data communication services, both in point-to-point mode and through networked communications.
No longer will a Soldier or Sailor, for example, have to remain stationary with an antenna pointed up toward a satellite to communicate, as is the case with yesterday’s narrowband communication system.
Instead, MUOS will allow the warfighter to move around the battlespace while communicating and it allows him or her to do so while sending data at greatly increased rates.
This secure, tactical communications capability for mobile warfighters, it is worth noting, is a key element of the Navy’s Information Dominance vision (see for example the Information Dominance Roadmap 2013-2028).
When complete, the MUOS constellation will consist of four satellites and an on-orbit spare. The system also includes four ground stations strategically located around the globe, which provide worldwide coverage and the ability to connect users wherever they are. The ground system transports data, manages the worldwide network and controls the satellites.
As background, the Naval Satellite Operations Center at Point Mugu, Calif., began flying the MUOS-1 satellite in June 2012 after a successful launch in February 2012.  In November of last year, the Navy announced that USSTRATCOM had accepted it for initial operational use.
Looking ahead, the MUOS constellation is expected to achieve full operational capability in 2015, extending narrowband availability well past 2025.
With the launch of MUOS-2 scheduled for tomorrow morning, we will be one step closer to providing this enhanced operational capability to our warfighters.
You can get a first-hand look of the launch beginning approximately 8:20 a.m. EDT,  July 19 at the United Launch Alliance website.

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