by the end of this year, a revelation
that made delays in the MUOS system all the more troubling.
However, Rear Adm. David W.
Titley, oceanographer and navigator
of the Navy and director for maritime awareness and space, altered
that assessment at the May Senate
Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing, arguing that the
service would have “in excess” of 70
percent of the constellation still
functioning by the time the first
MUOS satellite was in orbit and
fully operational next May.
The transition from the UFO
constellation to MUOS may seem
like a difficult one, but Pasquale
says the MUOS satellites will
employ two payloads: one for 3G
wideband and the other for UHF
“This dual payload approach,
and the development of the MUOS
Lockheed is pressing forward on testing to ensure that
there are no further slips in the program. The company
has completed environmental testing for the first MUOS
satellite and is conducting final factory testing in advance
of delivering it to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
From there, the Atlas V launch vehicle will ferry the
satellite into space, according to Pasquale.
The recent thermal vacuum testing Lockheed completed on the satellite was “one of the most significant
program milestones,” he said.
Thermal vacuum testing involves stressing the spacecraft “in a vacuum proto-flight environment at extreme
hot and cold temperatures in excess of those it will
experience throughout its design life,” Pasquale added.
In the meantime, Lockheed is preparing to perform
acoustic testing on the second MUOS satellite, which
“validates the integrity of the spacecraft and readiness
for launch” in advance of shipping the satellite to the
launch site at the end of 2012, Pasquale said.
Despite the setbacks, Pasquale argues that MUOS is
well worth the wait.
“[MUOS] is … designed to significantly improve
ground communications for U.S. forces on the move,”
he said. ■
The Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) is a next-generation narrowband
tactical satellite communications system intended to significantly improve
ground communications for U.S. forces. Its satellite constellation will use four
interconnected ground stations in Hawaii, Virginia, Italy and Australia. The station located at Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station
Pacific, Wahiawa, Hawaii, is seen here.
In February, the Navy exercised the option in its
contract with Lockheed to build the fifth and final
satellite at a cost of $340 million.
Pasquale said the satellite will have the ability to
provide bandwidth above and beyond what is offered
by the legacy UFO satellite constellation.
“MUOS is a first-of-its-kind satellite system that will
provide unprecedented new communications capabili-
ties, including simultaneous voice, data and video
services,” he said, “as well as the ability to increase
capacity and features over the life of the program.”
MUOS works by adapting commercial third-generation
(3G) wideband cellular phone network architecture and
combining it with the power of the satellites, according to
a Navy fact sheet on the program. The Navy posits that
MUOS will have more than 10 times the capacity of the
MUOS will use four interconnected ground stations
in Hawaii, Virginia, Italy and Australia that will identify incoming user communications, route them to the
correct ground site for uplink to the satellite and then
downlink to the recipient.
The new MUOS satellites cannot come soon enough
for the Navy. The UFO constellation is fading in terms
In an early 2010 report, Stackley raised concerns about
the eight UFO satellites, saying they would dip from 100
percent functionality in January 2010 to just 50 percent