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US Space Force Plans to Buy Communications Data from Luxembourg’s MEO Program

By Frank Wolfe | September 25, 2023

SES O3b mPOWER constellation. Photo: SES

Next year, the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) plans to buy military satellite communications (SATCOM) data from Luxembourg’s Medium Earth Orbit Global Services (MGS) program, which gives Luxembourg access to SES’s O3b mPOWER constellation.

“The United States is going to buy the satcom service from Luxembourg,” Barbara Baker, SSC’s deputy program executive officer for military communications and Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT), told a Space Force Association virtual audience on Sept. 21. “That’s an amazing opportunity that’s going to open up for us next year.”

Luxembourg’s Directorate of Defence has said that O3b mPOWER will have 11 satellites at an altitude of nearly 5,000 miles in MEO. O3b mPOWER satellites are to feature “a unique cutting-edge technology, with high throughput and low latency in the equatorial plane, enabling a secure sovereign network to be set up,” the directorate has said.

Last summer, SES completed a $450 million acquisition of DRS Global Enterprise Solutions (GES) in a deal to double the size of SES’ business with the U.S. government.

SSC is “putting a huge emphasis on partnership,” Baker said on Sept. 21. “We are going to get to a more resilient [communications] architecture, if we partner, and we’ll get there faster.”

Baker, who manages 1,800 personnel, including contractors at SSC, and a budget of $13 billion, cited GPS as an example of international military cooperation on PNT. SSC collaborates with 59 allies to provide them the user equipment to allow them to use the GPS constellation, “especially our military code [M-code].”

Deanna Ryals, SSC’s director of international affairs, is in charge of spearheading such allied collaboration.

A version of this article was first published by Defense Daily