It'll mark the first Delta IV launch of 2017, and the seventh launch of a certain configuration of the rocket known as the Medium+ (5,4).
Delta IV rocket carrying the ninth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) satellite for the United States Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on March 18 at 8:18 p.m. EDT.
WGS satellites play an essential role in the tactical and strategic adjustment of military operations.
The Boeing-built Wideband Global SATCOM - WGS-9 - communications station will provide high-speed communications services to US and allied nations, including drone command and control, voice and video links, messaging, data relay, email and television broadcasts to troops in the field. A single RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine powered the second stage.
One more WGS satellite will be launched late next year, the tenth member of a constellation replacing older Defense Satellite Communication System spacecraft.
This was the 35th launch of a Delta 4 rocket since the current version of the booster began flying in 2002, all of them successful. United Launch Alliance is a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co. To do so, WGS-9 exploits a state-of-the-art channelizer that elevates the communication capacity by almost 45% compared to the first seven WGS satellites. "The team's number one priority was safely and reliably delivering one of our nation's most critical satellites". A total of 10 satellites are planned for WGS, so the constellation will be almost complete.
The mission exhibits the continued commitment from the Air Force to provide reliable and secure satellite communications around the world to USA forces and her allies.