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First next-generation communications satellite launches

10/11/2007 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (AFPN) -- The Air Force launched the first of a next generation of military communications satellites from here Oct. 10 at 8:22 p.m. EDT, when a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster carried a Wideband Global SATCOM satellite into space.

WGS is the nation's next-generation wideband satellite communications system. The launch begins the process of augmenting and eventually replacing the aging Defense Satellite Communications System which has been the Department of Defense's backbone satellite communications for the last two decades.

"I'm extremely pleased with (the) successful launch and the superb performance of the entire team that made it happen," said Col. Donald Robbins, Wideband SATCOM Group commander with the MILSATCOM Systems Wing. "This launch campaign presented unique challenges that were overcome with a lot of hard work, attention to detail and a tremendous team effort between our WGS customer, the Boeing Company, the 45th Space Wing, the Aerospace Corporation, and the Launch and Range Systems Wing."

Once the satellite becomes operational, it will be the DOD's highest capacity communications satellite and provide critical effects for U.S. and allied warfighters.

"This mission proves that control of the battlefield really does begin here," said Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th Space Wing commander. "Congratulations to the entire government/industry launch team."

This mission also marked the 11th flight of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral AFS, and extends the string of consecutive successful operational launches to 52 for Air Force Space Command.

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