Space - MUOS 3 ULA Launch


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla – On January 20, 2015, the U.S. Navy successfully launched the third satellite for the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. MUOS is the U.S. Navy's next generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system that operates like a smartphone network to provide high speed voice and data communications for U.S. Forces anytime and anywhere in the world.

The U.S. Navy has reported that MUOS-3 is now responding to commands after being launched last night. An initialization team led by Lockheed Martin is operating the MUOS-3 satellite from the Naval Satellite Operations Center located at the Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California.

Excerpts from the U.S. Navy’s News Release
“Over the next several days, the satellite will transition to its geosynchronous orbit location 22,000 miles above Earth. Its solar arrays and mesh antennas will then be deployed and on-orbit testing will begin for eventual commissioning into service. Upon acceptance for operational use, MUOS 3 along with MUOS 1 and 2 already on-orbit, will provide communications coverage to more than three-quarters of the globe.”

“This MUOS 3 launch is another major milestone to achieving the next generation of global tactical satellite communications capability for the Department of Defense … It’s very visible evidence of the tremendous talent and dedication of our integrated joint service, government and contractor team.”-Capt. Joe Kan, MUOS program manager

“One of the key advantages MUOS will bring is increased capacity. There will be a 10-fold increase in the number of simultaneous users supported across the system. It brings higher data rates and the ability to reliably communicate in more challenging environments. Additional advantages include global reach and increased accessibility to military networks by the tactical users … Two MUOS satellites, launched in 2012 and 2013, are already providing legacy communications capability from their geosynchronous orbits over the Pacific Ocean and Continental United States.”

“MUOS provides satellite communications in the narrowband spectrum … In addition to ad-hoc situations such as disaster response, narrowband represents the majority of communications for SEAL teams in Afghanistan and ground patrols in Iraq.”

“For operators, the services will procure new radios or upgrade existing radios with the MUOS capability. Examples of warfighter’s devices currently developing the MUOS capability include: General Dynamics (PRC-155 and USC-61)…”

Source: Steven A. Davis, “Lift-off, Signal Acquired for Navy Communications Satellite,” U.S. Navy, 1/20/2014

More About MUOS
General Dynamics leads the deployment of the MUOS ground system, which includes four ground station facilities positioned around the globe to assist in the management and operation of the orbiting satellites. Each ground station is equipped with three freestanding Ka-Band antennas, which act like cell phone switches, receiving radio calls relayed through the MUOS satellites. The system provides a familiar cell phone-like service, allowing forces on the ground to communicate directly with each other and their commanders regardless of location, at higher levels of quality and much greater capacity than available today.


Space - MUOS Ground Stations Graphic


Ten Times More Capacity Than Legacy System
MUOS offers cell phone quality voice communications to soldiers at ten times the capacity of the legacy UHF system. A single MUOS satellite provides 4x the capacity of the entire legacy system of eight satellites. For U.S. Forces on the ground, the MUOS system will provide familiar cellular phone-like services with the satellites acting as very tall towers to allow warfighters on the ground to communicate directly with each other and their commanders virtually anywhere in the world.

Waveform Development / WCDMA
MUOS radio calls, like those recently demonstrated in the Arctic Circle with the PRC-155 Manpack radio, use the MUOS waveform. Developed by General Dynamics engineers in Scottsdale, AZ, the waveform converts a commercial third generation (3G) Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) cellular phone technology to provide a new and more capable UHF military satellite communications (SATCOM) system.

General Dynamics has two radios that connect to the MUOS waveform, the PRC-155 2CH Manpack Radio and the Digital Modular Radio (DMR).