Boeing [BA] May 24 said it has received the first on-orbit signals from the fifth Wideband Global SATCOM satellite (WGS-5) it is delivering to the Air Force.

The satellite is expected to give warfighters greater access to faster, more secure communications that will help them complete their missions more safely and effectively.

Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellites. Photo: Air Force.

WGS-5 will complete several maneuvers and tests before beginning operations.

The launch was delayed from May 23 due to an issue associated with a ground support system helium pressurization line, according to United Launch Alliance (ULA), which provided the Delta IV launch vehicle (Defense Daily, May 24).

WGS-5, part of the upgraded Block II series, will continue to extend the global reach of the WGS system to more users. The spacecraft and its ground terminals can operate in X- and Ka-band frequencies, and coverage areas can be shaped to meet users’ needs. WGS-5 also adds additional bandwidth to the system, addressing a critical Defense Department need.

“This satellite is going to strengthen an important tool that warfighters count on to be successful and safe,” said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems, in a statement.

WGS-5 launched on the ULA Delta IV vehicle May 24 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Controllers in Australia confirmed initial contact with the spacecraft 59 minutes later, indicating that the vehicle was functioning normally and was ready to be moved into geosynchronous Earth orbit.

The constellation is expected to eventually grow to at least 10 satellites.

The ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin [LMT].