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The U.S. Navy successfully launched its satphone platform from Cape Canaveral on Friday, reports Spaceflight Now. The Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-1) was the heaviest payload ever launched by an Atlas rocket in more than 600 launches.

MUOS-1 was designed around commercial 3G cellular architecture, using CDMA to connect to military forces. It uplinks at UHF frequencies in the 290-320 MHz band and downlinks at 240-270 MHz, using two gold mesh antenna reflectors, built by Harris. Legacy users can transmit through a 17.7-foot-diameter reflector on the bottom of the craft. Advanced, multi-beam features of MUOS are enabled by a large 46-foot reflector atop the satellite.

United Launch Alliance, the Boeing/Lockheed joint venture launched the spacecraft which will support the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) and deliver a blistering 64 Kbps using the $6 billion satellite constellation.

Ground controllers established contact with the satellite to begin what’s expected to be a three-month process of maneuvering MUOS 1 into geosynchronous orbit, deploying its power-generating solar arrays to span more than 90 feet, unfurling a pair of umbrella-like antenna reflectors on boom assemblies and fully checking out the onboard communications equipment.

Eight orbital raising burns are expected over the next 10-14 days, followed by the test program that Lockheed Martin will perform, Ghyzel said. The military will take control of the satellite in about 90 days to conduct its own acceptance evaluation before the craft enters service.

Four more satellite launches are planned over the next few years to ring the planet for global coverage of military communications.

In other news, Russian space agency Roscosmos and rocket and space-station hardware builder RSC Energia are working to restore commercial viability to Sea Launch, the floating rocket launch platform, reports Space News.

Sea Launch was formed in 1995 as a consortium of four companies from Norway, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, under Boeing. It resumed operations last year after a 30-month hiatus through U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, with a change of ownership from Boeing to Russia’s Energia. Sea Launch AG uses the Ukraine developed Zenit-3SL rocket and is now headquartered in Bern, Switzerland. Claims that the Russian Mafia launders money through Swiss banks are dismissed by the Swiss.

International Launch Services, a competing Lockheed-Russian joint venture, had exclusive rights to the worldwide sale of commercial Proton rocket launch services from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

ILS initially co-marketed non-military launches on both the U.S. Atlas V and the Russian Proton expendable launch vehicles. ILS is no longer affiliated with Lockheed Martin. In May 2008, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, a Russian company, became the majority shareholder in ILS.

The new, US-based United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, was formed in December 2006 after both companies racked up tens of billions in cost overruns on competing EELV heavy lifter programs.

Lockheed agreed to drop charges that Boeing spied on Lockheed, and to end the litigation both companies agreed to join forces to form the United Launch Alliance.

But EELV lift capacity for both the Boeing Delta IV and Lockheed Atlas V were deemed insufficient (pdf) for NASA’s new Commercial Orbital Transportation System. SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, which don’t get the billions in taxpayer subsidies that the major arms dealers receive, is now competing for COTS contracts.

The White House’s fiscal year 2013 budget calls for unclassified U.S. military space spending of about $8 billion, sustaining development of the Defense Department’s legacy systems while terminating the NPOESS weather satellites, the Operationally Responsive Space office, and the Air Force’s Space Test Program.

Related DailyWireless stories include; US Military to Get Lightsquared-like Satellite, US Celebrates 50 Years in Space, FCC Judgement on Lightsquared: Fail, Formation Flying Swarmbots, Small Satellite Conference Celebrates 25 Years, Orbcomm’s Space-based AIS Fails, Communications in Libya, FabFi: Cell Network in a Suitcase, Rebel Phone Network, High School Builds Police Robot, Atom Shrinks, The $6B Satellite

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