Post Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:43 am

The first SkyTerra satellite in orbit

On 14th of November 2010, at 17:29 GMT (12:29 AM EST), a Proton-type rocket designed to place into orbit a new civilian satellite named SkyTerra 1 was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The satellite belongs to LightSquared (formerly SkyTerra, formerly Mobile Satellite Ventures) and, together with a second satellite, SkyTerra 2, which will be launched in 2011 with the help of another Proton rocket, is intended to offer a full coverage of North American continent: USA, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, being positioned in a geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles altitude and 101.3 degrees west longitude.

With two satellites, the company LightSquared, aided by Boeing Satellite Systems, International Launch Services Inc. and Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center will be able to provide by the end of the year 2016 the latest generation mobile phone service (4G), together with its own terrestrial network.

The satellites will communicate in Ku and L bands and are built on the Boeing 702HP platform, using an antenna with the largest reflective surface used so far on civil satellites and being able to fold.
Using for communication with the two satellites four ground stations built by Boeing, the company aims to achieve a telephone network able to provide a link to any user, at any time, regardless of location or weather, hoping to avoid, after the year 2016, situations similar to Hurricane Katrina, when all ground communication systems became unusable, circumstances under which even the interventions of the National Guard teams were not coordinated.

The satellite, part of a project which doesn’t constitute a scientific innovation, but rather a social necessity, is intended to remain in use for a period of at least 15 years. The project was initially conceived with the prospect of a further third satellite, MSV-SA, meant to expand the network over South America as well.