US, Australia Eye WGS Comm Gateway

Building upon this week’s news that the United States and Australia would establish two space-surveillance sites on Australian soil, US and Australian officials also announced plans to stand up a combined satellite communications gateway in Western Australia. The gateway would provide both US and Australian operators access to the Air Force’s Wideband Global Satellite Communications spacecraft, states a Nov. 13 Pentagon release discussing the space-related cooperative initiatives to emerge from this week’s defense ministerial meetings in Australia. The United States has four WGS satellites on orbit and is preparing a fifth for launch. Overall, Boeing is already under contract to build 10 WGS spacecraft, which are designed to provide US military personnel around the globe with simultaneous X-band and Ka-band communications connectivity. Australia joined the WGS program in November 2007. Its funding contribution made possible the purchase of WGS-6, the sixth spacecraft in the series. In return, the Aussies secured the rights to use up to 16 percent of the total bandwidth capacity of the WGS constellation for their military. Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and New Zealand have since joined on to the WGS program under similar arrangements.