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Geostationary orbits

Communications satellite

A communications satellite or comsat is an artificial satellite sent to space for the purpose of telecommunications. Modern communications satellites use a variety of orbits including geostationary orbits, Molniya orbits, elliptical orbits and low (polar and non-polar Earth orbits).

For fixed (point-to-point) services, communications satellites provide a microwave radio relay technology complementary to that of communication cables. They are also used for mobile applications such as communications to ships, vehicles, planes and hand-held terminals, and for TV and radio broadcasting.


The Merriam-Webster dictionary Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a satellite as a celestial body orbiting another of larger size or a manufactured object or vehicle intended to orbit the earth, the moon, or another celestial body.

Electronic communications devices like cell phones and computers on the internet utilize satellite communications (SATCOM). Today's satellite communications can trace origins all the way back to the moon. A project named Communication Moon Relay, was a telecommunication project carried out by the United States Navy. Its objective was to develop a secure and reliable method of wireless communication by using the Moon as a natural communications satellite.

The first artificial satellite used solely to further advances in global communications was a balloon named Echo 1.ECHO 1 space.com Echo 1 was world's first artificial communications satellite capable of relaying signals to other points on Earth. It soared 1,000 miles (1,609 km) above the planet after its Aug. 12, 1960 launch, yet relied on humanity's oldest flight technology — ballooning. Launched by NASA, Echo 1 was a giant metallic balloon 100 feet (30 meters) across. The world's first inflatable satellite — or "satelloon," as they were informally known — helped lay the foundation of today's satellite communications. The idea behind a communications satellite is simple: Send data up into space and beam it back down to another spot on the globe. Echo 1 accomplished this by essentially serving as an enormous mirror 10 stories tall that could be used to bounce communications signals off of. The first American satellite to relay communications was Project SCORE in 1958, which used a tape recorder to store and forward voice messages. It was used to send a Christmas greeting to the world from U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. NASA launched the Echo satellite in 1960; the 100-foot (30 m) aluminized PET film balloon served as a passive reflector for radio communications. Courier 1B, built by Philco, also launched in 1960, was the world's first active repeater satellite.

It is commonly believed that the first "Satellite" was Sputnik 1. Put into orbit by the Soviet Union, Sputnik 1, launched on October 4, 1957 and was equipped with an onboard radio-transmitter that worked on two frequencies: 20.005 and 40.002 MHz. Sputnik 1 Sputnik 1 had been launched as step in the exploration of space and rocket development. While incredibly important it was not placed in orbit for the purpose of sending data from one point on earth to another. Hence, it was not the first "communications" satellite but it is the first artificial satellite in the steps leading to today's satellite communications.

Telstar was the first active, direct relay communications satellite. Belonging to AT&T as part of a multi-national agreement between AT&T, Bell Telephone Laboratories, NASA, the British General Post Office, and the French National PTT (Post Office) to develop satellite communications, it was launched by NASA from Cape Canaveral on July 10, 1962, the first privately sponsored space launch. Relay 1 was launched on December 13, 1962, and became the first satellite to broadcast across the Pacific on November 22, 1963[1]

An immediate antecedent of the geostationary satellites was Hughes' Syncom 2, launched on July 26, 1963. Syncom 2 revolved around the earth once per day at constant speed, but because it still had north-south motion, special equipment was needed to track it.

Geostationary orbits

To an observer on the earth, a satellite in a geostationary orbit appears motionless, in a fixed position in the sky. This is because it revolves around the earth at the earth's own angular velocity (360 degrees every 24 hours, in an equatorial orbit).

A geostationary orbit is useful for communications because ground antennas can be aimed at the satellite without their having to track the satellite's motion. This is relatively inexpensive. In applications that require a large number of ground antennas, such as DirectTV distribution, the savings in ground equipment can more than outweigh the cost and complexity of placing a satellite into orbit.

The main drawback of a geostationary orbit is that all ground stations must have a direct line of sight to the satellite. This limits the ground area to 50-60 degrees of either side of the satellite's position, measured in both latitude and longitude; consequently, a geostationary satellite cannot service extreme northern and southern areas of the world. Another drawback is the height of the orbit, usually which requires more powerful transmitters, larger-than-normal (usually dish) antennas, and higher-sensitivity receivers on the earth. The large distance also introduces a significant delay, of ~0.25 seconds, into communications.

The concept of the geostationary communications satellite was first proposed by Arthur C. Clarke, building on work by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and on the 1929 work by Herman Potočnik (writing as Herman Noordung) Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums — der Raketen-motor. In October 1945 Clarke published an article titled "Extra-terrestrial Relays" in the British magazine Wireless World.[2] The article described the fundamentals behind the deployment of artificial satellites in geostationary orbits for the purpose of relaying radio signals. Thus, Arthur C. Clarke is often quoted as being the inventor of the communications satellite.[citation needed] as a part of this communication series of long froters launched by america and alsoremalett bu peerr try to understand me as well as long as wgg as we get that etrhe resy oy eadse

The first geostationary satellite was Syncom 3, launched on August 19, 1964, and used for communication across the Pacific starting with television coverage of the 1964 Summer Olympics. Shortly after Syncom 3, Intelsat I, aka Early Bird, was launched on April 6, 1965 and placed in orbit at 28° west longitude. It was the first geostationary satellite for telecommunications over the Atlantic Ocean.

On November 9, 1972, Canada's first geostationary satellite serving the continent, Anik A1, was launched by Telesat Canada, with the United States following suit with the launch of Westar 1 by Western Union on April 13, 1974.

On May 30, 1974, the first geostationary communications satellite in the world to be three-axis stabilized was launched: the experimental satellite ATS-6 built for NASA

After the launches of the Telstar through Westar 1 satellites, RCA Americom (later GE Americom, now SES Americom) launched Satcom 1 in 1975. It was Satcom 1 that was instrumental in helping early cable TV channels such as WTBS (now TBS Superstation), HBO, CBN (now ABC Family), and The Weather Channel become successful, because these channels distributed their programming to all of the local cable TV headends using the satellite. Additionally, it was the first satellite used by broadcast television networks in the United States, like ABC, NBC, and CBS, to distribute programming to their local affiliate stations. Satcom 1 was widely used because it had twice the communications capacity of the competing Westar 1 in America (24 transponders as opposed to the 12 of Westar 1), resulting in lower transponder-usage costs. Satellites in later decades tended to have even higher transponder numbers.

By 2000, Hughes Space and Communications (now Boeing Satellite Development Center) had built nearly 40 percent of the more than one hundred satellites in service worldwide. Other major satellite manufacturers include Space Systems/Loral, Orbital Sciences Corporation with the STAR Bus series, Indian Space Research Organization, Lockheed Martin (owns the former RCA Astro Electronics/GE Astro Space business), Northrop Grumman, Alcatel Space, now Thales Alenia Space, with the Spacebus series, and Astrium.

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