The first Ariane 5 rocket to fly in six months roared into the pre-dawn skies to deliver the world’s heaviest commercial communications satellite, extending high-speed broadband Internet services to the the most remote locales in the most populated region on Earth.
Over the coming weeks, iPSTAR will use its propulsion system to raise the orbit’s perigee to geostationary altitude and reduce inclination from seven to zero degrees. It will then be guided to a permanent location along the equator at 120 degrees East longitude above Indonesia.
Once checked out by manufacturer Space Systems/Loral, control of iPSTAR — also known as Thaicom 4 — will be handed over to Shin Satellite, a Thailand-based company that also operates three other space communications birds launched in the 1990s.
The five-panel solar arrays stretch over 85 feet and provide a maximum of 17.6 kilowatts of power at the beginning of iPSTAR’s guaranteed lifetime of 12 years. It is also the heaviest commercial satellite to ever be placed into a geostationary orbit. iPSTAR-1 will be a 1300S platform, a variation of SS/L’s successful 1300 satellite product line that supports power requirements between 6 and 18 kW.
Funded by Thailand’s government authorized satellite operator, Shin Satellite, it’s the cornerstone of a broadband communications architecture that will offer high-speed Internet for around $50 a month. The goal is to ensure the services are comparable to ground lines that serve cable and DSL connections.
iPSTAR can reach customers in at least 14 nations across Asia and the Pacific from India to Japan, and south to Australia and New Zealand, with a high-power complement of Ku-band and Ka-band frequency transponders.
China Railway Communication (Asia Pacific) (CRC) will use more than 20 percent of the capacity aboard the first Ipstar satellite. They will function as the Ipstar National Service Operator (“NSO”) in the China market, where it will build and operate three national gateways for China.
To support the simultaneous operation of millions of user terminals throughout Asia/Pacific region, Ipstar-1 will carry a total of 87 Ku-band spot beams, 3 Ku-band shaped beams and 10 Ka-band spot beams that will be capable of supporting two-way as well as one-way communication links with terminals in the field. Ipstar’s spot beams and ground system network will be responsible for the optimization of asymmetric Internet traffic, while shaped beams will be used to relay broadcast TV and radio services on a regional basis.
The spot beams offer 20 times more bandwidth than traditional Ku-band systems. The Ka-band payload operates 18 feeder beams and uses gateways to connect to external networks such as the Internet backbone and telephone lines.
The total digital capacity aboard iPSTAR equals that offered by over 1,000 transponders using conventional coding, or somewhere around 45 gigabytes per second.
Terminals in homes, urban apartments, businesses, and public locations — or “hotspots” — can transmit and receive broadband signals to and from iPSTAR.
Japan’s MBSAT satellite has a 12-meter parabolic antenna with sufficient output power to enable signal reception on the ground by small antennas embedded in mobile gear. The hybrid broadcasting system handles direct reception and includes gap-fillers that enable reception in the shadow of buildings. Both direct reception and signals relayed by gap-fillers use the same 2.6-GHz frequency.
In ten years, Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry hopes to launch a massive satellite with a 66 foot dish antenna for mobile, 100 megabits per second internet access in mountainous areas, remote islands, bullet trains, airplanes and ships.
Korea’s biggest mobile phone operator, SK Telecom, launched a videocell satellite in the first half of the year. But the Korean Broadcasting Commission put the brakes on a launch until after next year in consideration of KBS, which is preparing for the terrestrial DMB service.
NSS-7 (above) features 49 C-band and 48 Ku-band 36 MHz-equivalent transponders and 11 high-powered coverage beams capable of broadcasting video, Internet and data traffic throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The satellite is one of the most powerful serving Latin America, enabling the use of antennas ranging in size from 75 centimeters to 1.2 meters.
New Skies Satellites, a global satellite communications company, today responded to information provided by Intelsat, regarding the ongoing investigation into the failure of the Intelsat 804 earlier this year. But Lockheed Martin has not isolated the root cause of the Intelsat satellite failure or the probability of such cause reoccurring on other satellites of the same series.
The United States has more than 80 Ka-band geostationary orbital slots assigned to U.S. operators by the FCC.
Canada’s Anik F2, in addition to C-band and Ku-band capacity, carried 45 Ka-band circular spotbeams with 30 licensed to Wildblue Communications, and 15 dedicated to Telesat’s Canadian customers. Total throughput will range between 3 and 4 Gbs.
Anik F2, a Boeing 702 spacecraft, uses a half dozen wideband 492-MHz transponders to beam traffic to the six planned gateways three each in the United States and Canada relaying multiple MF-TDMA return carriers from users grouped into six to eight beams in the process.
WildBlue (above), is delivering 2-way internet satellite in the United States via spot beams. WildBlue’s Spotbeams are on Canada’s Anik F2. It literally got off the ground last year. WildBlue began delivering 2-way internet access this June, starting at $50/month. The company is rolling out two-way satellite access in the mid-west, first. It is currently only available in the 48 continental United States.
DirecTV’s Direct 8 launched in May but instead of 2-way internet via spotbeams, DBS broadcasting of local HDTV stations now seems to be their prime interest.
The News Corp. bought DirecTV, and the advanced Ka Spot beam satellite Spaceway, which was originally going to be a “switchboard in the sky” and turned it into a spot beam DBS service for HDTV in the United States. Using a WiMax connection, a set-top box could make online gaming, VoIP and highspeed data a possibility. WiMax vendor Alvarion is in talks with DirecTV to do just that.
SES Americom has leased its entire block of Ku-band capacity, along with one polarity of the full Ka-band payload on AMC 15 to Echostar Communications. AMC 15, with its payload of two dozen 36 MHz Ku-band transponders, and a dozen 125 MHz Ka-band spotbeams, was launched last year.
AMERICOM-16 (AMC-16), launched last December, is a hybrid Ku/Ka-band satellite at 97.0 W. The satellite owned by SES GLOBAL (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg). It is anticipated that AMC-16 will deliver AMERICOM2Home for EchoStar DISH Network in the coming months, although little seems to be known about that service.
Satellite service providers like Telenor Satellite Services deliver land, sea, and aeronautical solutions, using satellite platforms from Inmarsat, Intelsat, Iridium, New Skies, Satmex, Spacecom, Thuraya and others.
LyngSat lists more than one hundred geosynch satellites over Asia & the South Pacific. Jonathan’s Space Report has the latest news and World SpaceFlight News has more space links than anyone. Here’s the latest from Vandenburg. Spaceflight Now has a regularly updated listing of planned missions from spaceports around the globe. More satellite information is available at Network Magazine, Lloyd Wood’s Satellite Constellations, The SkyREPORT, LyngSat Satellite Chart, Global VSAT Forum, Boeing Satellite Systems, Loral Skynet, PanAmSat and SES Americom.
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