Boeing has completed Spacecraft Thermal Vacuum (SCTV) testing for the first of its Wideband Gapfiller Satellites (WGS). The tests, conducted at the Boeing Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, California, evaluated the WGS operating systems’ ability to withstand the extreme temperatures of space.
‘WGS has completed one of the most difficult and highest risk tests in the build process to evaluate its ability to withstand the extreme hot and cold temperatures of space,’ said US Air Force Lt. Col. David Lee, WGS Block I program manager. ‘The completion of these tests moves WGS closer to its scheduled 2007 launch date.’
Over a two-month period, Boeing completed the tests inside its largest thermal-vacuum chamber, which provided the best representation of the space environment by removing all air and eliminating the ability to dissipate heat through convection. WGS testers cycled between hot and cold temperature extremes to ensure that all subsystems perform properly throughout all mission phases.
‘With the thermal-vacuum test complete, the team now is conducting final reviews of all environmental test data to confirm that the satellite is ready to proceed with final factory testing and shipment to the launch site,’ said Charles Toups, vice president of Navigation and Communications Systems for Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. ‘Once it’s launched, WGS will provide a tremendous boost in capacity and operational flexibility for our US Department of Defense customers.’
Boeing says WGS is the key element of a high-capacity satellite communications system designed to quickly disseminate large amounts of data to the military. With a growing need for bandwidth, including two-way, point-to-point, multicast and broadcast communications, WGS will provide additional network-centric communications capabilities for troops in the field.
Boeing is under contract to build three satellites for the WGS program. The US Air Force also has authorised Boeing to begin non-recurring engineering and advanced procurement of parts for a fourth WGS satellite. Full production for the fourth satellite and advanced procurement of parts for a fifth satellite are anticipated at the beginning of the new government fiscal year. The WGS system is a multi-spacecraft constellation designed to provide improved communications support for America’s armed forces.