Wideband Global SATCOM.jpg
Artist's impression of a WGS-3 satellite in orbit
Wideband Global SATCOM-3
Mission typeMilitary communications
OperatorUnited States Air Force / United States Space Force
COSPAR ID2009-068A
SATCAT no.36108
Mission duration14 years (planned)
11 years, 10 months and 15 days (in progress)
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeWGS Block I
ManufacturerBoeing Satellite Systems
Launch mass5,987 kg (13,199 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date6 December 2009, 01:47:00 UTC[1]
RocketDelta IV M+ (5,4)
Launch siteCape Canaveral, SLC-37B
ContractorUnited Launch Alliance
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeGeostationary orbit
Longitude12° West (Atlantic Ocean)
WGS-3 logo.jpg  

USA-211, or Wideband Global SATCOM 3 (WGS-3) is an United States military communications satellite operated by the United States Air Force as part of the Wideband Global SATCOM programme. Launched in 2009, it was the third WGS satellite, and final Block I satellite, to reach orbit. It is stationed at 12° West (Atlantic Ocean) in geostationary orbit.[2]


The WGS system is a constellation of highly capable military communications satellites that leverage cost-effective methods and technological advances in the communications satellite industry. The WGS system is composed of three principal segments: Space Segment (satellites), Control Segment (operators) and Terminal Segment (users). Each WGS satellite provides service in multiple frequency bands, with the unprecedented ability to cross-band between the two frequencies onboard the satellite. WGS augments other satellites.[3]

In early 2001, a satellite communications industry team led by Boeing Satellite Systems was selected to develop the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite (WGS) system as successors to the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) series of communications satellites. This satellite communications system is intended to support the warfighter with newer and far greater capabilities than provided by current systems. In March 2007, the acronym WGS was changed to Wideband Global SATCOM.[4]

Just one WGS satellite provides more SATCOM capacity than the entire legacy Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) constellation.[3]

Satellite description

Built by Boeing Satellite Systems, WGS-3 is based on the BSS-702 satellite bus. It had a mass at launch of 5,987 kg (13,199 lb), and was expected to operate for fourteen years. The satellite is equipped with two solar arrays to generate power for its communications payload, which consists of cross-band X-band and Ka-band transponders. Propulsion is provided by a R-4D-15 apogee motor, with four XIPS-25 ion engines for stationkeeping.[4]


WGS-3 was launched by United Launch Alliance (ULA), who placed it into orbit using a Delta IV launch vehicle, which flew for the first time in the Medium+ (5,4) configuration. The launch took place from Space Launch Complex 37B (SLC-37B) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), with at 01:47:00 UTC on 6 December 2009.[1] The launch was successful, placing the satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), from which it raised itself into geostationary orbit using its propulsion system. Following launch, the satellite was designated USA-211 under the U.S. military's designation system, and received the International Designator 2009-068A and Satellite Catalog Number 36108.[1][5]


  1. ^ a b c "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Report. 14 March 2021. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  2. ^ "ULA Delta IV successfully lofts WGS-5 satellite". 24 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Fact Sheets: Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite". United States Space Force. October 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ a b "WGS 1, 2, 3 (WGS Block 1)". Gunter's Space Page. 4 November 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  5. ^ "UCS Satellite Database". Union of Concerned Scientists. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.