Space: Wideband Global SATCOM

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December 28, 2007: The U.S. Department of Defense is buying a sixth Wideband Global SATCOM satellite, for about $300 million (which includes ground support equipment). This one won't go into orbit until 2012. The first one was launched two months ago, and is still undergoing testing in orbit. That bird is expected to go online in about three months. The military satellites have special equipment for military needs (including resistance to attacks), but mostly they just handle the growing military demand for satellite communications. This sixth satellite is being paid for, in part, by Australia, which will share use of the bird. The U.S. wants to have more military controlled satellite communications capacity, because currently, the world's military SATCOM needs are generally taken care of by buying time on commercial communications satellites. These "milsats" would be a major asset in wartime, because commercial satellites are more vulnerable to attack, or being turned off because of political pressure.

 


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