Friday, December 04, 2009

Air Force High Speed Satellite set for Launch

A highly advanced United States military communications satellite will head into orbit tonight aboard a Delta IV rocket, giving the troops on ground and in the air a faster data network to communicate.

The Wideband Global SATCOM 3, or WGS-3, is the third in a series of space-based communication relays to assist field troops in the middle eastern regions and Afghanistan.

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV is scheduled to launch from complex 37 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday at 7:23 pm EST. The launch window is open for 83 minutes.

This Delta IV- M(edium) flight will launch with four solid rocket boosters and a RS-68 engine in the core of the rocket.

The RS engine will ignite five seconds before T-0, followed by the four boosters igniting at zero.

The 13,200-pound spacecraft will fly into a supersynchronous transfer orbit of 237 x 36,167 nautical miles following separation from the Delta's upper stage. The satellite's separation will take place over northern Madagascar at T+40 minutes, 53 seconds into the flight. Orbital inclination will be 24 degrees.

The WGS-3 is more than a high tech communications relay satellite, but a high speed data transfer relay. It will be able to transmit data packets at speeds between 2.4 and 3.6 gigabytes per second.

The spacecraft will ba able to cover 19 regions of the eastern hemisphere, and will operate in the 500 Mhz X-band and the 1 GHz of the Ka-band.

This weekend's launch will mark the 11th launch of a Delta IV rocket since it's first flight in November 2002.

This Delta IV flight will also mark the 36th launch of a ULA supported flight in the last 36 months. ULA was formed in December 2006 with the coming together of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company. ULA supports both Delta II & IV and Atlas V launch campaigns.

SpaceLaunchNews.com will cover the launch of the Delta IV beginning at 6:55 pm EST, on Saturday. Also, follow us via Twitter: @spacelaunchnews for live updates to your phone.

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