Boeing [NYSE: BA] has indicated the third Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite built for the U.S. Air Force was shipped on September 28th to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, where it will be tested and prepared for a November launch.
WGS-3 completes the initial constellation of three WGS satellites, which will provide high-capacity X- and Ka-band communications to U.S. forces and allies across all current theaters of operation around the world. WGS-1 has been in operation over the Pacific since April 2008 and WGS-2 has been operating over the Middle East since August 2009. Both satellites have met or exceeded mission requirements throughout their testing and operational phases. WGS-3 was flown on an Air Force C-5 transport from Boeing's Satellite Development Center in El Segundo to Cape Canaveral last month. Before being shipped, WGS-3 completed mission assurance reviews and challenging factory tests that simulated the stress of the satellite's mission. The satellite successfully completed vibration tests and thermal vacuum tests. The vibration tests replicated the stresses of launch. Thermal vacuum tests were conducted in an airless chamber, with the satellite operating at full power, and subjected to extremes of heat and cold to simulate the working conditions it will experience in space.
At Cape Canaveral, WGS-3 will undergo about six weeks of prelaunch testing and processing, including fueling, encapsulation inside the launch vehicle fairing, and integration with the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV launch vehicle. Boeing built two previous WGS satellites and is currently manufacturing three more for the Air Force. WGS-3 is the final satellite in the Block I series. Three Block II satellites are planned for launch in 2011, 2012 and 2013.