The Air Force’s planned launch of its second wideband global satcom satellite has been pushed back to no earlier than next week after the scheduled liftoff of a GPS satellite, which is currently set for March 24. Originally scheduled for launch on March 13 from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., the WGS-2 mission was pushed back to March 14, due to the delay in the liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery, and then subsequently slipped to March 17. The liftoff attempt on March 17 was scrubbed when an anomalous leak rate was discovered in the Centaur upper-stage oxidizer valve of the host Atlas V booster as the rocket stood on the launch pad. Air Force officials say because of the time needed to fix the problem, the WGS-2 mission will not take place prior to launch of the GPS satellite. The Air Force placed WGS-1 in space in October 2007. It became operational last April. Overall six WGS satellites are planned to replace the current defense satellite communications system constellation. (Includes Cape Canaveral March 18 report and later update.)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S. The bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.