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The 15,000 pound Mobile User Objective Satellite is scheduled for liftoff from Cape Kennedy on July 19. MUOS is a UHF mobile phone satellite system, primarily serving the DoD. The MUOS will replace the legacy UHF Follow-On and operates primarily in the 300 MHz band.

MUOS utilizes older 3G cell phone technology (WCDMA) to provide voice and data directly to troops on the move. After MUOS-2 is operational and the ground stations and terminals have been certified, the full suite of MUOS features will be available to users in the field. It requires the most powerful version of the Atlas 5 to carry the payload into near geosynchronous space.

Lockheed Martin is the Prime Contractor under a Navy Contract announced September 24, 2004. A live launch broadcast will begin at 8:28 a.m. EDT and will be accessible via the United Launch Alliance webcast. The first satellite in the series was launched in February, 2012.

When completed by 2017, the MUOS constellation will feature four primary birds and one spare in orbit to ring the planet. It will provide 3G satphone service with a breathtaking 2.4 Kbps data rate.

The uplink and downlink bandwidth is divided into four 5-MHz WCDMA channels. Each user within a given 5-MHz channel is assigned a different spreading code, enabling up to 500 users to share a single channel.

The $6 billion MUOS program may be years late, but at least it didn’t balloon into multiple billions of overruns, as can sometimes be the case with military space programs when you add up all the “consultant” fees from military brass and contractors.

Perhaps a 4G version will take another 10 years. Of course, Lightsquared, TerreStar and ICO already have operational 4G satellites. They are currently station-keeping above the United States, waiting for users. Those satellites were delivered on-time and on-budget (about $350 million a pop).

Inmarsat’s I-4 series of satellites can generate 19 wide beams and more than 200 narrow spot-beams. SwiftBroadband delivers an IP-based packet-switched service offering with ‘always-on’ data at up to 432kbps per channel. It can also provide IP streaming at various rates up to a full channel. Inmarsat’s isatphone can deliver up to 20kbps.

The 6.6 ton Alphasat, the largest European telecommunications satellite ever built, has a solar array spanning nearly 40 metres (131ft) and is currently being readied for launch. The L- band satellite will support Inmarsat’s existing satphones and terminals.

Alphasat will expand Inmarsat’s global L-band service for availability over Europe, the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia. ESA’s Alphasat, due to launch on July 25, will also carry an optical communication terminal experiment that will be the first optical satellite to collect large amounts of scientific data from other satellites.

The first Inmarsat-5 satellite is expected to launch before the end of the year. Boeing Satellite Systems won the contract to design and build three Inmarsat-5 satellites based on its proven 702HP platform as part of a $1.2 billion investment.

Each Inmarsat-5 satellite will carry 89 Ka-band beams from geosynchronous orbit. Their Global Xpress service will offer up to 50Mbps.

Of course a 30 GHz satellite like Inmarsat-5 will be able to deliver more speed and capacity than a satellite like the MUOS system that’s using the 300 MHz UHF band.

But still.

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