An Air Force-industry team launched the first of the new advanced communication satellites, the Wideband Global SATCOM, at 8:22 pm on Oct. 10. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V boosted the WGS into orbit from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. The WGS spacecraft will replace the Defense Satellite Communication System satellites, providing a 10-fold increase in communications capacity, according to a release from WGS-maker Boeing. The new sat began sending signals about 47 minutes after launch, and Boeing controllers in California confirmed it is “healthy.” USAF must conduct on-orbit testing before declaring it operational, probably in early 2008.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.