Engineers on Oct. 30 completed the process of encapsulating the latest Wideband Global Satellite Communications spacecraft into its launch vehicle payload fairing in preparation for its expected launch in space on Nov. 19. The procedure took place at Astrotech’s facility in Titusville, Fla., according to a Space & Missile Systems Center release Tuesday. This satellite, dubbed WGS-3, is the third Boeing-built WGS communications spacecraft for the Air Force. A Delta IV rocket fired from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., will carry it into orbit, where it will join the already operational WGS-1 and WGS-2. The Air Force currently plans to procure at least six WGS satellites to replace the Defense Satellite Communications System spacecraft. (For more on the WGS constellation, read Communications Difference.)
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.