On July 24 (UTC), 2015, United Launch Alliance (ULA) conducted successful launch of Delta IV Medium+ 5,4 configuration with the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-7) mission for the US Air Force from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
WGS-7 mission is the 98th ULA launch and the 30th Delta IV mission since the vehicle's inaugural flight in 2002. This is also the fifth Delta IV flight in the Medium+ 5,4 configuration. Notably, all launches in this configuration were WGS missions.
WGS system is a constellation of highly capable military communications satellites that leverage cost-effective methods and technological advances in the communications satellite industry. WGS system is composed of 3 principal segments: Space Segment (satellites), Control Segment (operators) and Terminal Segment (users). Each WGS satellite provides service in both the X and Ka frequency bands, with the unprecedented ability to cross-band between the two frequencies onboard the satellite.Reported to cost $566 million, the latest US Air Force communications satellite was built by Boeing Defense, Space and Security on BSS-702 platform. It weight near 6 tons and, as it was mentioned above, is fitted with X- and Ka-band beams. Just one WGS satellite provides more SATCOM capacity than the entire legacy Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) constellation.
With the latest satellite, WGS orbital constellation is comprised of seven satellites in geosynchronous orbit. The first WGS satellite was launched in October 2007. There are three Block I satellites (launched in October 2007, April 2009, December 2009) and three WGS Block II satellites (launched in January 2012, May 2013, and August 2013). WGS-7 is the first out of four Block II Follow-on satellites, anticipated for launch in 2015-2018.
WGS satellites provides worldwide flexible, high data rate and long haul communications for the US marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, the White House Communication Agency, the US State Department, international partners, and other special users. International partners participating on the WGS program are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and New Zealand.
As it was noted, Delta IV Medium+ rocket that has launched WGS-7 satellite was of 5,4 configuration. This means it has 5-meter in diameter payload fairing, and four Orbital ATK-supplied GEM60 solid rocket motors to augment the common booster core (CBC).