UPDATE 1-U.S. military satellite, paid for by Australia, launched into orbit

Wed Aug 7, 2013 9:12pm EDT
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* Partnership allows Australia to use communications network

* Canada, four other countries paying for future satellite

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Aug. 7 (Reuters) - An unmanned Delta 4 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Wednesday carrying a communications satellite for the U.S. military and its partners, including Australia, which paid for the spacecraft and launch services.

The Delta rocket, topped with the sixth Wideband Global Satcom, or WGS, spacecraft lifted off at 8:29 p.m. EDT (0029 GMT) and soared out over the Atlantic Ocean, illuminated by the setting sun, as it headed into space.

The WGS 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...