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U.S. sends new military satellite into orbit

The United States on Wednesday launched a new military satellite into the orbit, the latest of a communications network shared by Washington and its Western allies.

Atop a Delta 4 rocket, the sixth Wideband Global Satcom, or WGS, spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:29 p.m. local time (0029 GMT). It rose into the sky and accelerated away high above the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. military said.

Built by Boeing and paid for by Australia, the 5987-kg WGS-6 satellite will join a military communications network shared by the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

The network will have 10 satellites in total, with 8 of which financed by the U.S. Air Force, the WGS-6 funded by Australia and the rest one paid for by the five other partners.

The WGS satellites group will have 10 times the capacity of the earlier Defense Satellite Communications System it is replacing to better serve the United States and the six partners, according to the U.S. military.

The new network will replay television broadcasts, video conferences, images and other high-bandwidth data to and from navies, ground forces and air forces, command centers of the U.S. and several allies.

Dave Madden, head of military satellite communications of the U.S. Air Force, said the new network will "provide tremendous flexibility."

"Where that really comes into play is the key capability of interoperability between various terminals and war fighters," he told reporters via a conference call.

The first WGS satellite was launched in 2007 and the U.S. military now chose to invite allies to join the network due to a tightening budget.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 07Aug13]

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