The third Boeing-developed wideband global SATCOM (WGS) satellite has sent first on-orbit signals from space, indicating that the spacecraft is healthy and ready to begin orbital manoeuvres and operational testing.

The third of six WGS satellites, part of the US Department of Defense’s latest satellite communications system, sent the first signals 58 minutes after launch at a ground station in Dongara, Australia.

Boeing’s Mission Control Center in El Segundo, California, confirmed that the WGS-3 satellite, which was launched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket, is functioning normally.

Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems vice-president and general manager Craig Cooning said the nation’s warfighters rely on satellites like this one to help them execute difficult missions safely and effectively, and the air force-Boeing team is committed to coming through for them.

The WGS-3 will be placed into geosynchronous Earth orbit over the Atlantic Ocean, following a series of orbital manoeuvres and on-orbit tests over the West Coast of the US.

US forces and allies around the world will get assured access to high-data-rate communications from the WGS-3, together with WGS-1 and WGS-2 satellites.