AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas CityMade at Boeing Co.’s Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, the first Wideband Global SATCOM is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida during a 71-minute launch window starting at 5:22 p.m. PDT. Once in orbit, the so-called WGS will represent the Department of Defense’s highest capacity communications satellite. The first WGS eventually will be joined by others to form a constellation of five Boeing-built satellites. WGS will perform the functions of an existing constellation known as the Defense Satellite Communications System, or DSCS, which supports all three military branches. “This one (WGS) satellite has more capability than the entire DSCS constellation, which has nine satellites,” said Col. Donald Robbins, the Air Force’s commander of the Wideband Satellite Communications Group. “What that does for the warfighter is it allows him to communicate at a level that he cannot communicate today. It’s kind of a quantum leap for them. It’s equivalent to going from dial-up to broadband.” The Space and Missile Systems Center, at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, oversees the WGS program for the military and bought the first satellite from Boeing. WGS will not have global reach until three of the satellites are in orbit. After the third satellite is launched, as early as next year – followed by several months of standard testing – troops on the battlefield, aircraft and ships will be able to quickly send large amounts of information to almost any location on the planet. In addition, WGS will operate in two frequencies, the X-band, used heavily by the Army, and the Ka-band, which carries broadcast signals. The military’s Global Broadcast Service constellation provides one-way Ka-band signals. By contrast, WGS will provide two-way Ka-band signals. The new satellite system will also be able to “cross-band,” which involves communications using both frequencies simultaneously. “It’s huge for the military,” Robbins said. “So someone sitting in Baghdad with an X-band terminal can talk to someone with a Ka-band terminal. It gives the troops in the field more flexibility, capability and connectivity.” Boeing was awarded its first WGS contract in January 2001. The Air Force estimates that each satellite will cost about $350 million. The WGS is based on Boeing’s largest commercial satellite model, the 702. Using a so-called “off-the-shelf” commercial model for a military mission is saving the government time and money, Robbins said. Development of the WGS was a collaboration between the Air Force, Boeing, the Army and El Segundo-based The Aerospace Corp., a federally funded think tank. Mark Spiwak, Boeing’s WGS program director, called the collaboration “very effective and productive.” “There can be no better benefactor for these enhanced services than those who fight to defend the nation and preserve the peace,” Spiwak said in a prepared statement to the Daily Breeze. The WGS had been scheduled to launch Tuesday, but a data anomaly involving the Atlas V launch vehicle led the Air Force to delay a day. The fourth WGS satellite is scheduled for launch in 2011, with the fifth in 2012. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MILITARY: Device built in El Segundo has greater defense capacity than earlier models. By Muhammed El-Hasan STAFF WRITER A Boeing-built satellite will launch into orbit today to help propel the U.S. military into an age of more powerful communications.