A MUOS satellite completes testing in an anechoic test chamber. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)
Development teams within the defense and industrial sectors continue to explore ways to bring satellite coverage to the far reaches of the globe. One such region—the Arctic—has experienced a major increase in traffic as nations stake claims farther and farther north, according to Lockheed Martin. Since the environment is so extreme, most geosynchronous satellites can’t reach users.
One potential solution comes via Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites: The U.S. Navy demonstrated the transfer of megabyte data files in the Arctic for the first time using these secure satellite connections. MUOS is particularly known for its wideband-code-division-multiple-access (WCDMA) communications payload. A part of the Navy’s Ice Exercise (ICEX) program, MUOS satellites have already provided nearly 150 hours of secure data connections.
Check out a video from Lockheed Martin on MUOS' Arctic reach below:
From March 17 to 27, 2014, MUOS delivered over 8800 minutes of service to “Ice Camp Nautilus,” a floating ice camp above the Arctic Circle. Users at the camp connected to both secure and classified communication systems, as well as sent data files. Multiple files—up to 20 Mbytes—were downloaded. The stream of photos, maps, and generally large pieces of data were sent securely over the connection—a virtual impossibility for legacy communications satellites in that region.
MUOS’ Arctic capabilities were first demonstrated in 2013; tests showed a significant gain in signal reach from the required latitude of 65 degrees north (roughly Fairbanks, Alaska). The coverage helps support growth in shipping, tourism, resource exploration, and search and rescue, as well as defense needs. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, located in Sunnyvale, Calif., is MUOS’ prime contractor and system integrator.