Air Force officials launch satellite to enhance military communications

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Air Force officials successfully launched a new-generation military communications satellite from here at 8:47 p.m. EST Dec. 5 when a Delta IV rocket carried a Wideband Global SATCOM into space.

WGS satellites are designed to provide high-capacity communications to U.S. military forces and the satellites will augment and eventually replace the Defense Satellite Communication System that has been the Department of Defense's backbone for satellite communications over the last two decades.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, who had planned to witness the launch from the Morrell Operations Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station prior to a 24-hour weather delay, said he and the entire nation depend on the 45th Space Wing and other space associated programs.

"The WGS provides a giant leap in communications bandwidth and technology," Secretary Donley said. "The launch of this satellite is another example of the Air Force bringing important and vital capabilities to our nation's military around the world."

This mission marked the third flight of a Delta IV rocket this year from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a record for one year. It also was the second launch of a WGS this year from here. WGS-2 launched atop an Atlas V rocket here April 3.

"I am extremely proud to be a part of a team of space professionals that launched the third Wideband Global SATCOM satellite to complete the first phase of the WGS constellation," said Brig. Gen. Edward L. "Ed" Bolton Jr., the 45th Space Wing commander. "I am also pleased this marked our 20th launch of the year."

First launched in 2007, WGS will be a constellation of five satellites that will supply service for military leaders to command and control their tactical forces.