The Air Force will have a window of time Friday evening to place its second wideband global satcom satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., Gary Payton, USAF’s civilian lead for space, told reporters Thursday. The Air Force had to push back the launch last month on several occasions due to the delay in the liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery, and then because of an irregular leak in the upper-stage motor of the host Atlas V booster as the rocket stood on the launch pad. Payton said he is optimistic about the pending launch. “We’ve had 60 launch vehicle successes in a row,” he said during a meeting with reporters at the Space Foundation symposium in Colorado (see above). He added, “We have every indication that tomorrow’s launch will be number 61.” He noted that the WGS spacecraft has a greater communications capacity than the entire constellation of defense satellite communications system satellites being replaced.
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.