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Aerospace and Defense Channel / Industry News

Lockheed Martin-built satellite surpasses 10-year on-orbit life

February 13, 2012
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The second Milstar II military communications satellite, built by a Lockheed Martin team for the U.S. Air Force, has surpassed its 10-year design life of on-orbit service, providing our nation's warfighters with secure and reliable communications since its successful launch on January 16, 2002.

Designated Milstar II Flight-5, the satellite is the second of three on-orbit Block II spacecraft that offer a full range of enhanced communications for the U.S. military.  The satellite is equipped with Ultra High Frequency and Low Data Rate Extremely High Frequency (EHF) payloads as well as a Medium Data Rate EHF payload that processes data at speeds up to 1.5 megabits per second.  All Milstar satellites feature radio frequency crosslinks, allowing communication between on-orbit satellites.

“The Milstar constellation has demonstrated exceptional reliability and capability, providing vital protected communications to the warfighter,” said Kevin Bilger, vice president and general manager, Global Communications Systems, Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale.  “Milstar’s robust system offers our nation worldwide connectivity with flexible, dependable and highly secure satellite communications.”

The five-satellite Milstar constellation has surpassed 63 years of combined successful operations, and provides a protected, global communication network for the joint forces of the U.S. military. In addition, it can transmit voice, data, and imagery, and offers video teleconferencing capabilities.

The system is the principal survivable, endurable communications structure that the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command use to maintain positive command and control of the nation's strategic forces.

In addition to this 10-year milestone for Flight-5, each of the first two Milstar satellites have been on orbit for over 16 years – far exceeding their 10-year design life.

The next-generation Lockheed Martin-built Advanced EHF satellites, joining the Milstar constellation, provide five times faster data rates and twice as many connections, permitting transmission of strategic and tactical military communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data.  Advanced EHF satellites are designed to be fully interoperable and backward compatible with Milstar. 

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