LightSquared (formerly named SkyTerra) put a brave face on their little satellite problem last week. SkyTerra 1, was successfully launched on on November 14, 2010. All was going swimmingly until Boeing tried to unfurl the massive 22 meter (75 foot) antenna.
“The L-band antenna reflector on the SkyTerra 1 satellite has not been fully deployed,” Boeing announced last week. “Boeing, in close partnership with its LightSquared customer, has assembled a team of experts to assess progress and continue deployment of the antenna. We are proceeding to complete in-orbit testing and hand over the satellite and its Space Based Network to LightSquared in early 2011.”
Officials said ground teams remained hopeful that the antenna, the largest commercial antenna ever launched in space, might be gently “shaken” by ground commands to stir the spacecraft into action.
On Friday, December 10th, the SkyTerra 1 team announced they had successfully deployed its 22-meter-diameter antenna to 98 percent of its intended extension. That announcement was presumably greeted by a collective sigh of relieve. For 10-days managers thought the mission might be lost.
The exact procedure used by Boeing, with the aid of Harris, to unblock the deployment of the antenna remains unclear, says SpaceNews. Two industry officials said that with a 98 percent deployment, the antenna is all but certain to provide the power and coverage that LightSquared needs to meet its regulatory obligations.
Lightsquared hopes to extend its terrestrial LTE network to Dallas, Chicago and Minneapolis in 2011, reports Business Week. The company’s network may grow to 20 cities in 2012, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Lightsquared’s SkyTerra 1 and SkyTerra 2 use both space and terrestrial elements to deliver mobile voice and data services throughout North America. The large antenna enables small, cellular-sized satphones with relatively fast data speeds.
To retain its FCC license, LightSquared must maintain a functional satellite service even if space-based communications appears only as footnote in the company’s future financial statements, notes Space News. The real action is on the ground, using their ATC repeaters for terrestrial LTE service at 1.6 GHz. LightSquared controls 59MHz of the United States nationwide spectrum and has received FCC authorization to use this spectrum to build its nationwide 4G-LTE wireless broadband network integrated with satellite coverage.
The company claims its L-band (1.6 GHz) spectrum for LTE is the largest contiguous block of spectrum below 2 GHz.
In October, LightSquared announced the formation of an Emergency Rapid Response Communications Team (ERRT) available to deploy to emergency and disaster locations throughout North America. The team will provide on-call mobile satellite communications services, personnel and equipment for emergency support to federal, state and local first responders and public safety agencies.
Lightsquared says 1.6GHz service is better then Harbinger’s ill-fated twin, TerreStar, which uses the 2 GHz MSS band. That satellite is supposed to handoff to AT&T cellular service in urban areas. When it’s operational. Anytime now.
Harris also built the smaller 18-meter (60 foot) antenna reflector for the 2 GHz TerreStar-1 satellite (above) operated by TerreStar Corporation. The satellite is now operational — but the company is bankrupt.
The fate of the AT&T/TerreStar Genus smartphone, the $250 million TerreStar satellite, the associated 2 GHz satphone service (and their cellular handoff and ATC frequencies), are currently very much in the air.
In other space news, Cisco yesterday announced the first VoIP call made aboard a commercial satellite without the use of any terrestrial infrastructure to route the call. It was part of the Internet Routing in Space (IRIS) testing done on Intelsat 14 that launched last year with a Cisco 18400 Space Router on board.
The IRIS architecture eliminates the need for routing via a ground-based teleport,” explained Don Brown, Vice President of Payloads for Intelsat. IRIS can route data to multiple ground receivers in a single step, while regenerating the signal. “IRIS is our attempt at Cisco to really transform the satellite market and satellite networks,” said Greg Pelton, Cisco’s IRIS general manager.
Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; MSS: Stuck in Space, Satellite with 328 ft Antenna to Launch, SkyTerra 1 Launched, Broadband Satellites: Black Hole?, LightSquared: Phase 1, LightSquared: 5K Basestations by 2011, LightSquared Announces LTE Network, FCC Okays Terrestrial LTE for SkyTerra, TerreStar Successfully Launched, AT&T/TerreStar Ready Satphone Service, TerreStar Phones Home, Motorola + SkyTerra Team for 700 MHz/Sat Radios, TerreStar’s 60 Ft Antenna Deployed in Space, TerreStar Successfully Launched , Satphones Maneuver, WildBlue: $30M, Shovel-ready, Alvarion, Open Range To Build 17 State Net, WiChorus Ropes Open Range, Satellites Collide, AT&T/TerreStar Ready Satphone Service, Godzilla SatPhones WiMAXed , WiMAX and/or Satellite,