Delta IV Rocket Launch Commemorates Air Force 70th Anniversary

New US Military Communications Satellite to Launch Saturday

Delta IV rocket launched the ninth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) space mission for the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, March 18.

"WGS provides worldwide flexible, high data rate and long haul communications for marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, the White House Communication Agency, the US State Department, global partners, and other special users". A total of 10 satellites are planned for WGS, so the constellation will be almost complete. It has launched all WGS satellites in orbit today.

Close-up view of nose cone encapsulating the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) mission for the U.S. Air Force slated to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fl, on March 18, 2017.

In a 20 year partnership with Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, the launch of WGS-9 was a major achievement.

The satellite going up tonight is the ninth one for the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system, a constellation of satellites that provides high-capacity communication capabilities for the United States military all over the globe.

The United Launch Alliance rocket carrying the satellite successfully launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after being delayed about 30 minutes due to a technical issue.

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WGS satellites play an essential role in the tactical and strategic adjustment of military operations.

WGS-9 was delivered to a supersynchronous transfer orbit atop the ULA Delta IV Medium+ rocket.

The spent stage then fell away and the second stage RL10B-2 engine, also built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, ignited and fired for another 15-and-a-half minutes to put the vehicle and its satellite payload into a preliminary elliptical orbit. At that altitude, satellites take 24 hours to complete one orbit and appear to hang stationary in the sky, allowing the use of fixed antennas on the ground along with line-of-sight communications with mobile forces.

Check out the highlights of WGS-9's launch.

The Boeing Co. was awarded the first contract to develop the WGS system, which initially proposed two satellites, in 2001. Including less powerful Delta 2 boosters and Atlas 5 rockets, ULA has now flown 118 successful missions in a row.

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