On December 18, 1958, the world’s first communications satellite was launched. Dubbed SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment), the project was so secret that only 88 people were aware of its existence. Before the date of the SCORE launch, 53 of the 88 people had been told the project had been canceled and they were not to mention to anyone that it had ever existed.
“This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite traveling in outer space. My message is a simple one: Through this unique means I convey to you and all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere.”
The underlying message was less cheery. The U.S. now had the capability of delivering a nuclear weapon from space.
WorldView-3 features a state-of-the-art multi-spectral imaging system, a high-speed data downlink operating at 1.2 gigabits per second and control moment gyroscopes that will allow ground controllers to quickly re-orient the spacecraft for on-demand observations. From an altitude of nearly 400 miles it will be able to image the entire planet as it rotates below. The satellite is capable of seeing objects just 25cm (10 inches) across and was launched by a Russian-built RD-180 first-stage engine.
Some 170 countries now have at least one satellite of their own and 11 nations have the capability to launch a spacecraft into orbit, said commander Gen. William Shelton, adding that with space launch also comes missile technology and the potential for anti-satellite shootdowns.
Presumably, the actual mission of the Angels Satellites is to blow up stuff. Not that any Lockheed, Boeing or retired military would personally benefit from any “space war”. After all, they appear to be on the same side as the Russians.
The new Internet.org app lets mobile users in the African country access a set of health, employment, and local information services without data charges. It includes AccuWeather, Google Search, Wikipedia, women’s rights app WRAPP, and, of course, Facebook, among others.
The app will first be available to Airtel subscribers in Zambia, and Facebook plans to roll it out to other parts of the world in the future.
“We believe that every person should have access to free basic Internet services — tools for health, education, jobs and basic communication,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Thursday post on his Facebook page announcing the new app.
The FCC in late March released its initial AWS-3 rules. The FCC’s Report and Order sets flexible-use regulatory, licensing, and technical rules for 65 megahertz of spectrum in the AWS-3 band, which includes the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands.
The licensed spectrum will include three 5×5 megahertz options, leaving just a single 10×10 megahertz license covering the country. The unlicensed spectrum will use the 1755-1780 MHz bands.
the FCC detailed the AWS-3 rules in mid-May, noting that there would not be any limitations on bidding eligibility. Verizon showed strong interest in the band, while Sprint has hinted that it may skip the AWS-3 proceedings.
The aggregate reserve price for the 1695-1710 MHz band is $580 million with a separate aggregate reserve price for the paired 1755-1780 MHz/2155-2180 MHz bands of approximately $10.07 billion. Some spectrum is being reallocated from federal use in the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1780 MHz bands. The FCC will assign new licenses for the AWS-3 spectrum by competitive bidding.
In its AWS-3 transition plan released earlier this month, NTIA estimates total relocation and sharing costs for the 1695-1710 MHz band at $527.1 million and for the 1755-1780 MHz band at $4.576 billion. The spectrum at 2155-2180 MHz is in FCC hands and ready for auction. The 1695-1710 MHz band will be unpaired spectrum used for low-power uplink operations. The 1755-1780 MHz band will be licensed for low-power uplink operations and will be paired with the 2155-2180 MHz band for downlink operations.
As previously included in AWS-3 rulemaking, the FCC also reiterated that companies that gain access to spectrum licenses will have to put up with potential interference from federal users in the 1755-1780 MHz bands that are set to be cleared of federal users as part of the auction process.
The protection zone addition did not go over well with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who fired off a formal letter stating his objection to the process. Pai’s objections centered on the lack of information regarding the location of the protection zones.
On the supply side, NSR expects that nearly 3,000 transponders will be added based on satellites entering service between now and 2023. “Nearly every satellite being launched will carry traditional Ku-band, thus adding 1500 transponders of just Ku-band by 2017. This continues until the effect of HTS supply begins to eat into the broader demand, a phenomenon not expected until the end of this decade”, says the report.
Global demand paints a cautiously optimistic picture, with over 1,300 transponders of new demand for traditional C, Ku, and Ka-band capacity arising by 2023, supplemented by nearly 1 Tbps of new GEO-HTS demand. “Looking at global demand, the hype surrounding HTS is indeed justified, with a demand growth rate of over 30% annually, compared to less than 2% for traditional FSS C, Ku, and Widebeam Ka-band capacity,” reports Blaine Curcio, Analyst and report co-author.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched six LEO comsats to modernize Orbcomm’s orbital fleet of messaging satellites. ORBCOMM says the six satellites’ solar panels and antennas deployed properly, and are connecting to their Gateway Earth Stations around the world.
The flight was supposed to take off in early May, but persistent technical issues with the Falcon 9 rocket and the Orbcomm satellites kept the launcher grounded until July.
With the six satellites launched Monday and 11 more spacecraft on the way, Orbcomm expects its 889,000 subscribers will see better service in the coming months. Each second-generation satellite has six times the data capacity and twice the transmission rate of one of Orbcomm’s existing satellites.
Companies like Orbcomm, exactEarth, SpaceQuest, and government programs like ESA’s ship-tracking satellite program have deployed AIS receivers on satellites, but currently most all AIS is terrestrial-based and dependent on radio towers. Consequently, AIS vessel tracking is available only along rivers or along coast lines, and is not generally available in the open ocean.
The new platforms will join 25 operational first-generation Orbcomm satellites, plus a pair of small ship-tracking spacecraft used by Orbcomm. The new satellites were built by Sierra Nevada and Boeing, and should begin machine-to-machine communications and maritime tracking services within 60 days, according to an Orbcomm press release.
Both the Iridium and GlobalStar satphone constellations plan new M2M services, in competition to Orbcomm, allowing independent contractors to “piggyback” independent hosted services on their satellite platforms.
Iridium NEXT, their second-generation platform, is expected to launch beginning in 2015 and is expected to be fully operational in 2017. The Iridium NEXT satellite network will consist of 66 in-orbit satellites, with six in-orbit and nine on-ground spares. The 48 spot beams from each satellite antenna will collectively cover an area roughly the size of the United States. The constellation will begin launching in 2015 will offer greater bandwidth and data speeds.
Iridium will host payloads designed by other entities. Space is now fully allocated to two companies, Aireon for its space-based aircraft surveillance application and Harris Corporation for additional auxiliary payloads.
Aireon will use the Iridium NEXT hosted payload space to develop the world’s first space-based global aviation monitoring system.
ADS-B will be replacing radar as the primary surveillance method for controlling aircraft worldwide. Enabled by Harris’ 81 space-qualified ADS-B receivers, the system relies on two avionics components—a GPS navigation source and a datalink (ADS-B unit). This allows controllers to guide aircraft into and out of crowded airspace with smaller separation standards than it was previously possible.