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Release No: 668-95
December 19, 1995



A new era for space-based communication began December 15 when two militarysatellites "crosslinked" in space -- transmitting messages to each otherwithout first sending the data through ground stations.

The first-ever crosslinked message, signed by the Joint Chiefs of StaffChairman, Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, announced:

"A new era of military C2 capability has recently been inaugurated usingsatellite-to-satellite information to communicate without ground relays. Thefirst technological handshake in space using Milstar crosslinks reflects boththe cooperative spirit of joint operations and the magnificent information agewarfighting advantages available at America's vital interests around the globeare protected." The term, C2, is a military reference for "Command andCommunications"

First conveyed at 10:52 p.m. EST via the Milstar satellite communicationssystem, the message represents a crucial step in the evolution of the program,recognized as the Department of Defense's state-of-the-art "switchboard in thesky." Acquired and developed by the United States Air Force's Space andMissile Systems Center's Joint Program Office, Milstar provides secure,jam-free communications and world-wide connectivity to authorized users.

The communication was uplinked from the National Military Command CenterTerminal at Fort Belvoir, Va. through the first Milstar satellite, which wasplaced in orbit in February 1994. It was crosslinked to the second Milstar,launched last month, then downlinked to commanders at Pacific Command at CampH.M. Smith, Hawaii and the U.S. Atlantic Command at Norfolk, Va.

Milstar employs inter-satellite communication antennas known as crosslinks toprovide space-based world-wide communications. Crosslinks support the existinglow-and future medium-data rates transmitted via the constellation, so that anymessage can be uplinked to space, routed around the constellation, thendownlinked to a destination terminal -- all without using ground-based relaystations.

The crosslink payload provides secure inter-satellite communications for theMilstar constellation by using specific frequencies and high-gain, narrow beamantennae. When the Milstar constellation is completed in the year 2000 withfour satellites in geosynchronous orbit, it's crosslinking capability willprovide interconnections worldwide while requiring only one ground station onfriendly soil.

For further information contact Mr. Howard Antellis, Air Force Space andMissile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFS, Calif., (310) 363-0255.

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