U.S. military satellite, paid for by Australia, ready for launch

Wed Aug 7, 2013 12:03pm EDT
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* Partnership allows Australia to use communications network

* Canada, four other countries paying for future satellite

* Launch set for 8:29 p.m. EDT/0029 Thursday GMT

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Aug. 7 (Reuters) - An unmanned Delta 4 rocket was poised for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Wednesday to put a communications satellite into orbit for the U.S. military and its partners, including Australia, which paid for the spacecraft and launch services.

Liftoff of the sixth Wideband Global Satcom, or WGS, spacecraft was scheduled for 8:29 p.m. EDT (0029 GMT).

The orbital network is used to relay television broadcasts, video conferences, images and other high-bandwidth data to and from ships, aircraft, ground forces, operations centers, the U.S. Department of State, the White House and select partners worldwide.

"These satellites provide tremendous operational flexibility," Dave Madden, director of military satellite communications at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, told reporters during a conference call.

"A Navy ship can be operating in X-band ... and communicate with someone else operating with a Ka-band terminal, and vice-versa. The satellite does that conversion for them. That way we can cross-talk across the services and across capabilities," Madden said.   Continued...