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US launches military communications satellite

The Atlas-v rocket lifts off with the new military satellite of the US Navy. A Lockheed photo.

CAPE CANAVERAL (BNS): The US Navy has launched an advanced military tactical satellite to enhance ground communication for its troops on the move.

The Lockheed Martin-built Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite was sent into orbit by an Atlas-V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force station, Florida on February 24.

The mission was originally planned for February 16, but inclement weather delayed the launch.

The MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system that will provide military users 10 times more communications capability over existing systems.

It will replace the aging network of Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UFO) constellation of 10 satellites presently operated by the US military.

The first MUOS satellite and associated ground system will provide initial on-orbit capability this year with the four-satellite global constellation achieving full operational capability in 2015, extending UHF narrowband communications availability well past 2025, Lockheed said.

The company was awarded a $2.1 billion contract in September 24, 2004 to build the first two satellites and associated ground control elements for the MUOS system.

The US Navy has since exercised the contract option to produce three additional spacecraft, developing four MUOS satellites with one on-orbit spare and the supporting ground systems.

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