‘Pacific Pivot’ Enabled by Next-Gen MUOS Satellite Communications


When on the move, you don’t want to find an open space just to get a phone call. Similarly, you should expect up-to-date mission data being delivered, no matter where you are.  Missions shouldn’t be exposed, so personnel trying to communicate shouldn’t be exposed, either.

Lockheed Martin’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) is the U.S. military satellite communications system that will make sure users on the move can use secure voice, data and video connections at smartphone speeds, and do so in urban, jungle or mountainous terrain.  That means that users don’t need to be in the open while trying to communicate, and as strategic interests shift to the Asia Pacific region, providing smartphone-like capability on the move will be especially important enablers to mobile forces.

“MUOS will help our customers rise to the challenge of tomorrow,” said Iris Bombelyn, vice president of Narrowband Communication Systems. “Mobile communications demand will rise, and MUOS is here to deliver that much-needed capability. With these system improvements and smaller user terminals, we’re enabling an agile, mobile and connected force for the future.”

MUOS hosts two payloads, one for the next-gen wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) capability and another ultra high frequency (UHF) legacy payload. The first MUOS satellite is already on orbit providing crystal-clear voice communications as part of the legacy UHF network, and the system is ready for WCDMA service once new and existing terminals are readied for use.

“Our system can also prioritize communications on-the-fly, so users with the most urgent need can use more of the system’s resources than others,” Iris said. “Groups can be designated for broad and timely dispersal of important messages. For complex, Joint and coalition operations, you can see how that will be an important enabler.”

MUOS will reach full operational capability in 2015. The constellation is supported by a worldwide network of ground stations, which includes a site in Australia.

MUOS is expected to provide warfighters global coverage before the end of 2015. MUOS-3 (link to launch release) was recently launched on Jan. 20, 2015 and is undergoing on-orbit testing. MUOS-1 and MUOS-2, launched respectively in 2012 and 2013, are already operational and providing high-quality voice communications. MUOS-4 is on track to launch later in 2015. The fourth and final required MUOS ground station also is expected to be operational early this year.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, California, is the MUOS prime contractor and system integrator. The U.S. Navy's Program Executive Office for Space Systems and its Communications Satellite Program Office, San Diego, California, are responsible for the MUOS program.


The first Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite is encapsulated in an Atlas V rocket’s payload fairing in preparation for launch.


The U.S. Navy’s second Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite completes testing in a Lockheed Martin Anechoic test chamber to ensure the spacecraft’s signals and interfaces work properly.