The Hughes-built US Navy Ultra High Frequency Follow-On F8 communications satellite was launched by the final ILS International Launch Services Atlas II booster from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 16 March. The UHF F/O F8 will be stationed at 172¹E over the Pacific.

The satellite is the first in the fleet to carry high power transponders for the $150 million Global Broadcast Service (GBS) to provide high speed, wide band, simplex broadcast signals to small mobile and tactical terminals. The F9 and F10 satellites will also use the GBS.

The launch of the 10th satellite will complete the $1.85 billion Hughes contract which spawned the highly successful HS-601 spacecraft bus. Procurement of the launches was made commercially by Hughes, rather than by the US Navy.

The 10 missions represent the largest single commercial launch services programme says ILS, which has commitments for 24 more Atlas launches, 18 commercial and six for the US Air Force.

nHughes Space and Communications opened the world's largest satellite factory - 600,000ft2 (55,700m2) - on 18 March at El Segundo, California.

Source: Flight International