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satellite communication, in telecommunications, the use of artificial satellites to

provide communication links between various points on Earth. Satellite communications play a
vital role in the global telecommunications system. Approximately 2,000 artificial satellites
orbiting Earth relay analog and digital signals carrying voice, video, and data to and from one or
many locations worldwide.

Satellite communication has two main components: the ground segment, which consists of
fixed or mobile transmission, reception, and ancillary equipment, and the space segment, which
primarily is the satellite itself. A typical satellite link involves the transmission or uplinking of a
signal from an Earth station to a satellite. The satellite then receives and amplifies the signal and
retransmits it back to Earth, where it is received and reamplified by Earth stations and terminals.
Satellite receivers on the ground include direct-to-home (DTH) satellite equipment, mobile
reception equipment in aircraft, satellite telephones, and handheld devices.

Development of satellite communication

The idea of communicating through a satellite first appeared in the short story titled “The Brick
Moon,” written by the American clergyman and author Edward Everett Hale and published in
The Atlantic Monthly in 1869–70. The story describes the construction and launch into Earth
orbit of a satellite 200 feet (60 metres) in diameter and made of bricks. The brick moon aided
mariners in navigation, as people sent Morse code signals back to Earth by jumping up and down
on the satellite’s surface.

The first practical concept of satellite communication was proposed by 27-year-old Royal Air
Force officer Arthur C. Clarke in a paper titled “Extra-Terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations
Give World-wide Radio Coverage?” published in the October 1945 issue of Wireless World.
Clarke, who would later become an accomplished science fiction writer, proposed that a satellite
at an altitude of 35,786 km (22,236 miles) above Earth’s surface would be moving at the same
speed as Earth’s rotation. At this altitude the satellite would remain in a fixed position relative to
a point on Earth. This orbit, now called a “geostationary orbit”, is ideal for satellite
communications, since an antenna on the ground can be pointed to a satellite 24 hours a day
without having to track its position. Clarke calculated in his paper that three satellites spaced
equidistantly in geostationary orbit would be able to provide radio coverage that would be almost
worldwide with the sole exception of some of the polar regions.
The first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, was launched successfully by the Soviet
Union on Oct. 4, 1957. Sputnik 1 was only 58 cm (23 inches) in diameter with four antennas
sending low-frequency radio signals at regular intervals. It orbited Earth in a elliptical orbit,
taking 96.2 minutes to complete one revolution. It transmitted signals for only 22 days until its
battery ran out and was in orbit for only three months, but its launch sparked the beginning of the
space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The first satellite to relay voice signals was launched by the U.S. government’s Project SCORE
(Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment) from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Dec. 19,
1958. It broadcast a taped message conveying “peace on earth and goodwill toward men
everywhere” from U.S. Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

American engineers John Pierce of American Telegraph and Telephone Company’s (AT&T)
Bell Laboratories and Harold Rosen of Hughes Aircraft Company developed key technologies in
the 1950s and ’60s that made commercial communication satellites possible. Pierce outlined the
principles of satellite communications in an article titled “Orbital Radio Relays” published in the
April 1955 issue of Jet Propulsion. In it he calculated the precise power requirements to transmit
signals to satellites in various Earth orbits. Pierce’s main contribution to satellite technology was
the development of the traveling wave tube amplifier, which enabled a satellite to receive,
amplify, and transmit radio signals. (See also Britannica Classic: satellite communication,
written by Pierce for the 15th edition of Encyclopædia Britannica.) Rosen developed spin-
stabilization technology that provided stability to satellites orbiting in space.

When the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

(NASA) was established in 1958, it embarked on a program to develop satellite technology.
NASA’s first project was the Echo 1 satellite that was developed in coordination with AT&T ’s
Bell Labs. Pierce led a team at Bell Labs that developed the Echo 1 satellite, which was launched
on Aug. 12, 1960. Echo 1 was a 30.5-metre (100-foot) aluminum-coated balloon that contained
no instruments but was able to reflect signals from the ground. Since Echo 1 only reflected
signals, it was considered a passive satellite. Echo 2, managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight
Center in Beltsville, Md., was launched on Jan. 25, 1964. After Echo 2, NASA abandoned
passive communications systems in favour of active satellites. The Echo 1 and Echo 2 satellites
were credited with improving the satellite tracking and ground station technology that was to
prove indispensable later in the development of active satellite systems.

Pierce’s team at Bell Labs also developed Telstar 1, the first active communications satellite
capable of two-way communications. Telstar 1 was launched into low Earth orbit on July 10,
1962, by a Delta rocket. NASA provided the launch services and some tracking and telemetry
support. Telstar 1 was the first satellite to transmit live television images between Europe and
North America. Telstar 1 also transmitted the first phone call via satellite—a brief call from
AT&T chairman Frederick Kappel transmitted from the ground station in Andover, Maine, to
U.S. Pres. Lyndon Johnson in Washington, D.C.

Rosen’s team at Hughes Aircraft attempted to place the first satellite in geostationary orbit,
Syncom 1, on Feb. 14, 1963. However, Syncom 1 was lost shortly after launch. Syncom 1 was
followed by the successful launch of Syncom 2, the first satellite in a geosynchronous orbit (an
orbit that has a period of 24 hours but is inclined to the Equator), onJuly 26, 1963, and Syncom
3, the first satellite in geostationary orbit, on Aug. 19, 1964. Syncom 3 broadcast the 1964
Olympic Games from Tokyo, Japan, to the United States, the first major sporting event broadcast
via satellite.

The successful development of satellite technology paved the way for a global
communications satellite industry. The United States spearheaded the development of the
satellite communications industry with the passing of the Communications Satellite Act in 1962.
The act authorized the formation of the Communications Satellite Corporation (Comsat), a
private company that would represent the United States in an international satellite
communications consortium called Intelsat.

Intelsat was formed on Aug. 20, 1964, with 11 signatories to the Intelsat Interim Agreement. The
original 11 signatories were Austria, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain,
Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Vatican, and West Germany.

On April 6, 1965, the first Intelsat satellite, Early Bird (also called Intelsat 1),
was launched; it was designed and built by Rosen’s team at Hughes Aircraft Company. Early
Bird was the first operational commercial satellite providing regular telecommunications and
broadcasting services between North America and Europe. Early Bird was followed by Intelsat
2B and 2D, launched in 1967 and covering the Pacific Ocean region, and Intelsat 3 F-3, launched
in 1969 and covering the Indian Ocean region. Intelsat’s satellites in geostationary orbit provided
nearly global coverage, as Arthur C. Clarke had envisioned 24 years earlier. Nineteen days after
Intelsat 3 F-3 was placed over the Indian Ocean, the landing of the first human on the Moon
on July 20, 1969, was broadcast live through the global network of Intelsat satellites to over 600
million television viewers.

The Soviet Union continued its development of satellite technology with the Molniya series of
satellites, which were launched in a highly elliptical orbit to enable them to reach the far northern
regions of the country. The first satellite in this series, Molniya 1, was launched on April 23,
1965. By 1967 six Molniya satellites provided coverage throughout the Soviet Union. During the
50th anniversary of the Soviet Union on Oct. 1, 1967, the annual parade in Red Square was
broadcast nationwide via the Molniya satellite network. In 1971 the Intersputnik International
Organization of Space Communications was formed by several communist countries, led by the
Soviet Union.

The potential application of satellites for development and their ability to reach remote regions
led other countries to build and operate their own national satellite systems. Canada was the first
country after the Soviet Union and the United States to launch its own communications satellite,
Anik 1, on Nov. 9, 1972. This was followed by the launch of Indonesia’s Palapa 1 satellite on
July 8, 1976. Many other countries followed suit and launched their own satellites.

How satellites work

A satellite is basically a self-contained communications system with the ability to

receive signals from Earth and to retransmit those signals back with the use of a transponder—an
integrated receiver and transmitter of radio signals. A satellite has to withstand the shock of a
launch into orbit at 28,100 km (17,500 miles) an hour and a hostile space environment where it
can be subject to radiation and extreme temperatures for its projected operational life, which can
last up to 20 years. In addition, satellites have to be light, as the cost of launching a satellite is
quite expensive and based on weight. To meet these challenges, satellites must be small and
made of lightweight and durable materials. They must operate at a very high reliability of more
than 99.9 percent in the vacuum of space with no prospect of maintenance or repair.

The main components of a satellite consist of the communications system, which includes the
antennas and transponders that receive and retransmit signals, the power system, which includes
the solar panels that provide power, and the propulsion system, which includes the rockets that
propel the satellite. A satellite needs its own propulsion system to get itself to the right orbital
location and to make occasional corrections to that position. A satellite in geostationary orbit can
deviate up to a degree every year from north to south or east to west of its location because of the
gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun. A satellite has thrusters that are fired occasionally to
make adjustments in its position. The maintenance of a satellite’s orbital position is called
“station keeping,” and the corrections made by using the satellite’s thrusters are called “attitude
control.” A satellite’s life span is determined by the amount of fuel it has to power these
thrusters. Once the fuel runs out, the satellite eventually drifts into space and out of operation,
becoming space debris.

A satellite in orbit has to operate continuously over its entire life span. It needs internal power to
be able to operate its electronic systems and communications payload. The main source of power
is sunlight, which is harnessed by the satellite’s solar panels. A satellite also has batteries on
board to provide power when the Sun is blocked by Earth. The batteries are recharged by the
excess current generated by the solar panels when there is sunlight.

Satellites operate in extreme temperatures from −150 °C (−238 °F) to 150 °C (300 °F) and may
be subject to radiation in space. Satellite components that can be exposed to radiation are
shielded with aluminium and other radiation-resistant material. A satellite’s thermal system
protects its sensitive electronic and mechanical components and maintains it in its optimum
functioning temperature to ensure its continuous operation. A satellite’s thermal system also
protects sensitive satellite components from the extreme changes in temperature by activation of
cooling mechanisms when it gets too hot or heating systems when it gets too cold.

The tracking telemetry and control (TT&C) system of a satellite is a two-way communication
link between the satellite and TT&C on the ground. This allows a ground station to track a
satellite’s position and control the satellite’s propulsion, thermal, and other systems. It can also
monitor the temperature, electrical voltages, and other important parameters of a satellite.

Communication satellites range from microsatellites weighing less than 1 kg (2.2 pounds) to
large satellites weighing over 6,500 kg (14,000 pounds). Advances in miniaturization and
digitalization have substantially increased the capacity of satellites over the years. Early Bird had
just one transponder capable of sending just one TV channel. The Boeing 702 series of
satellites, in contrast, can have more than 100 transponders, and with the use of digital
compression technology each transponder can have up to 16 channels, providing more than
1,600 TV channels through one satellite.

Satellites operate in three different orbits: low Earth orbit (LEO), medium Earth orbit (MEO),
and geostationary or geosynchronous orbit (GEO). LEO satellites are positioned at an altitude
between 160 km and 1,600 km (100 and 1,000 miles) above Earth. MEO satellites operate from
10,000 to 20,000 km (6,300 to 12,500 miles) from Earth. (Satellites do not operate between LEO
and MEO because of the inhospitable environment for electronic components in that area, which
is caused by the Van Allen radiation belt.) GEO satellites are positioned 35,786 km (22,236
miles) above Earth, where they complete one orbit in 24 hours and thus remain fixed over one
spot. As mentioned above, it only takes three GEO satellites to provide global coverage, while it
takes 20 or more satellites to cover the entire Earth from LEO and 10 or more in MEO. In
addition, communicating with satellites in LEO and MEO requires tracking antennas on the
ground to ensure seamless connection between satellites.

A signal that is bounced off a GEO satellite takes approximately 0.22 second to travel at the
speed of light from Earth to the satellite and back. This delay poses some problems for
applications such as voice services and mobile telephony. Therefore, most mobile and voice
services usually use LEO or MEO satellites to avoid the signal delays resulting from the inherent
latency in GEO satellites. GEO satellites are usually used for broadcasting and data applications
because of the larger area on the ground that they can cover.

Launching a satellite into space requires a very powerful multistage rocket to propel it into the
right orbit. Satellite launch providers use proprietary rockets to launch satellites from sites such
as the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan,
Kourou in French Guiana, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Xichang in China, and
Tanegashima Island in Japan. The U.S. space shuttle also has the ability to launch satellites.

Satellite communications use the very high-frequency range of 1–50 gigahertz (GHz; 1 gigahertz
= 1,000,000,000 hertz) to transmit and receive signals. The frequency ranges or bands are
identified by letters: (in order from low to high frequency) L-, S-, C-, X-, Ku-, Ka-, and V-
bands. Signals in the lower range (L-, S-, and C-bands) of the satellite frequency spectrum are
transmitted with low power, and thus larger antennas are needed to receive these signals. Signals
in the higher end (X-, Ku-, Ka-, and V-bands) of this spectrum have more power; therefore,
dishes as small as 45 cm (18 inches) in diameter can receive them. This makes the Ku-band and
Ka-band spectrum ideal for direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting, broadband data
communications, and mobile telephony and data applications.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the United Nations,
regulates satellite communications. The ITU, which is based in Geneva, Switz., receives and
approves applications for use of orbital slots for satellites. Every two to four years the ITU
convenes the World Radiocommunication Conference, which is responsible for assigning
frequencies to various applications in various regions of the world. Each country’s
telecommunications regulatory agency enforces these regulations and awards licenses to users of
various frequencies. In the United States the regulatory body that governs frequency allocation
and licensing is the Federal Communications Commission.

Satellite applications
Advances in satellite technology have given rise to a healthy satellite services sector that
provides various services to broadcasters, Internet service providers (ISPs), governments, the
military, and other sectors. There are three types of communication services that satellites
provide: telecommunications, broadcasting, and data communications. Telecommunication
services include telephone calls and services provided to telephone companies, as well as
wireless, mobile, and cellular network providers.
Broadcasting services include radio and television delivered directly to the
consumer and mobile broadcasting services. DTH, or satellite television, services (such as the
DirecTV and DISH Network services in the United States) are received directly by households.
Cable and network programming are largely delivered to local stations and affiliates via satellite.
Satellites also play an important role in delivering programming to cell phones and other mobile
devices, such as personal digital assistants and laptops.

Data communications involve the transfer of data from one point to another. Corporations and
organizations that require financial and other information to be exchanged between their various
locations use satellites to facilitate the transfer of data through the use of very small-aperture
terminal (VSAT) networks. With the growth of the Internet, a significant amount of Internet
traffic goes through satellites, making ISPs one of the largest customers for satellite services.

Satellite communications technology is often used during natural disasters and emergencies
when land-based communication services are down. Mobile satellite equipment can be
deployed to disaster areas to provide emergency communication services.

One major technical disadvantage of satellites, particularly those in geostationary orbit, is an

inherent delay in transmission. While there are ways to compensate for this delay, it makes some
applications that require real-time transmission and feedback, such as voice communications, not
ideal for satellites.

Satellites face competition from other media such as fibre optics, cable, and other land-based
delivery systems such as microwaves and even power lines. The main advantage of satellites is
that they can distribute signals from one point to many locations. As such, satellite technology is
ideal for “point-to-multipoint” communications such as broadcasting. Satellite communication
does not require massive investments on the ground—making it ideal for underserved and
isolated areas with dispersed populations.

Satellites and other delivery mechanisms such as fibre optics, cable, and other terrestrial
networks are not mutually exclusive. A combination of various delivery mechanisms may be
needed, which has given rise to various hybrid solutions where satellites can be one of the links
in the chain in combination with other media. Ground service providers called “teleports” have
the capability to receive and transmit signals from satellites and also provide connectivity with
other terrestrial networks.

The future of satellite communication

In a relatively short span of time, satellite technology has developed from the experimental
(Sputnik in 1957) to the sophisticated and powerful. Future communication satellites will have
more onboard processing capabilities, more power, and larger-aperture antennas that will enable
satellites to handle more bandwidth. Further improvements in satellites’ propulsion and power
systems will increase their service life to 20–30 years from the current 10–15 years. In addition,
other technical innovations such as low-cost reusable launch vehicles are in development. With
increasing video, voice, and data traffic requiring larger amounts of bandwidth, there is no dearth
of emerging applications that will drive demand for the satellite services in the years to come.
The demand for more bandwidth, coupled with the continuing innovation and development of
satellite technology, will ensure the long-term viability of the commercial satellite industry well
into the 21st century.

Satellite Communication
1.Satellite systems:

There are three different types of satellite systems.

1. International satellite communication system INTELSAT.
2. Domestic satellite system DOMSAT.
3. Search and rescue system SARSAT.


The INTELSAT Organization was established in 1964 to handle the myriad

of technical and administrative problems associated with a world wide
telecommunication system. The international regions served by INTELSAT
are divided in to the Atlantic Ocean region (AOR), the Pacific Ocean Region
(POR), and the Indian Ocean region (IOR). For each region , satellites are
positioned in geo-stationary orbit above the particular Ocean, where they
provide a transoceanic telecommunication route. In addition to providing
trans oceanic routes, the INTELSAT satellites are used for domestic services
within any given country and regional services between countries. Two such
services are vista for telephony and Intelnet for data exchange.


Domestic satellites are used to provide various telecommunication

services, such as voice, data, and video transmission (T.V channels), with in
a country.


SARSAT is one type of Polar orbiting satellites.

Polar-orbiting satellites orbit the earth in such a way as to cover the north
and south polar-regions. Infinite number of polar polar satellite orbits are

Polar satellites are used to provide environmental data , and to help

locate ships and aircrafts in distress .This service known as SARSAT, for
search and rescue satellite.

This figure shows polar satellite path and earth rotation

up ^

2.Kepler's Laws:

Artificial satellites which orbit the earth follow the same laws that govern
the motion of the planets around the sun. Johannes Kepler (1571 -1630)
was derived empirically three laws describing planetary motion . In 1665,
Newton was able to derive Kepler's laws from his own laws of mechanics and
theory of gravitation.

Kepler's laws:

Kepler's first law: Kepler's first law states that the path followed by the
satellite around the ptimary will be an ellipse

Kepler's second law: Kepler's second law states that for equal time
intervals, the satellite will sweep areas in its orbital plane .

Kepler's third law: Kepler's third law states that the square of periodic
time of orbit is proportional to the cube of the mean distance between the
two bodies.

up ^

3.Definitions And Related Terms Of Earth-Orbiting Satellites

Apogee. The point farthest from earth.

Perigee. The point of closest approach to earth.

Line of apsides. The line joining the perigee and apogee through the center
of the earth.

Ascending node. The point where the orbit crosses the equatorial plane
going from south to north.

Descending node. The point where the orbit crosses the equatorial plane
going from north to south.

Line of nodes. The line line joining the ascending and descending nodes
through the center of the earth.

Inclination. The angle between the orbital plane and the earth's equatorial

Prograde orbit. An orbit in which the satellite moves in the same direction
as the earths rotation.

Retrograte orbit. An orbit in which the satellite moves in a direction counter

to the earth's rotation.

Argument of perigee. The angle from ascending node to perigee, measured

in the orbital plane at the earth's center in direction of satellite motion.

Mean anomaly. Mean anomaly M gives an average value of the angular

position of the satellite with reference to the perigee

True anomaly. The true anomaly is the angle from perigee to the satellite
position, measured at the earth's center. this gives the true angular position
of the satellite in the orbit as a function of time.

up ^

4.Satellite system

A satellite communication system can be broadly divided into two

segments, a ground segment and a space-segment. The space system
includes Satellite.

Satellite system consist of the following systems.

Power supply:
The primary electrical power for operating electronic equipment is
obtained from solar cells. Individual cells can generate small amounts of
power, and therefore array of cells in series-parallel connection are
required .

Cylindrical solar arrays are used with spinning satellites, (The gyroscopic
effect of the spin is used for mechanical orientational stability) Thus the
array are only partially in sunshine at any given time.

Another type of solar panel is the rectangular array or solar sail. solar sail
must be folded during the launch phase and extended when in geo-
stationary orbit. Since the full component of solar cells are exposed to sun
light ,and since the Sail rotate to track, the sun , they capable of greater
power output than cylindrical arrays having a comparable number of cells.

To maintain service during an eclipse, storage batteries must be provided .

Attitude control:

The attitude of a satellite refers to its Orientation in space. Much of

equipment carried abroad a satellite is there for the purpose of controlling its
attitude. Attitude control is necessary, for example, to ensure that
directional antennas point in the proper directions. In the case of earth
environmental satellites the earth-sensing instrument must cover the
required regions of the earth, which also requires attitude control. A number
of forces, referred to as disturbance forces can alter attitude, some
examples being the gravitational forces of earth and moon, solar radiation,
and meteorite impacts.

Station keeping:

A satellite that is normally in geo-stationary will also drift in latitude, the

main perturbing forces being the gravitational pull of the sun and the
moon . the force cause the inclination to change at the rate of about 0.85
deg./year. if left uncorrected, the drift would result in a cycle change in the
inclination going 0 to 14.67deg in 26.6 years and back to zero , when the
cycle is repeated. To prevent the shift in inclination from exceeding specified
limits, jets may be pulled at the appropriate time to return the inclination to
zero. Counteracting jets must be pulsed when the inclination is at zero to
halt that change in inclination.

Thermal control:
Satellites are subject to large thermal gradients, receiving the sun
radiation on one side while the other side faces into space. In addition,
thermal radiation from the earth, and the earth's abedo, which is the
fraction on the radiation falling on the earth which is reflected can be sight
for low altitude, earth-orbiting satellites, although it is negligible for geo-
stationary satellites. Equipment in the satellite also generates heat which
has to be removed. the most important consideration is that the satellite's
equipment should operate as near as possible in a stable temperature
environment. various steps are taken to achieve this. Thermal blankets and
shields may be used to provide insulation. radiation mirrors are often used
to remove heat from communication payload. These mirrored drums
surrounded the communication equipment shelves in each case and provide
good radiation paths for the generated heat to escape in to surround space.

To maintain constant-temperature conditions, heaters may be switched

on to make up for the hearts may be switched on to make reduction that
occurs when transponders are switched off.

TT&C subsystem

Telemetry system

The telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) subsystem performs several

routine functions abroad a spacecraft. the telemetry or "telemetering"
function could be interpreted as "measurement at a distance". specifically, it
refers to the over all operation of generating an electrical signal proportional
to the quantity being measured, and encoding and transmitting this to a
distant station, which for satellite is one of the earth stations, which for the
satellite is one of the earth stations. Data that are transmitted as telemetry
signals include attribute information such as obtained from sun earth
sensors; environmental information such as magnetic field intensity and
direction; the frequency of meteorite impact and so on ;and spacecraft
information such as temperatures and power supply voltages, and stored
fuel pressure.

Command systems

Command system receives instructions from ground system of satellite and

decodes the instruction and sends commends to other systems as per the

Tracking of the satellite is accomplished by having the satellite is
accomplished by having the satellite transmit beacon signals which are
received at the TT&C earth stations. Tracking is obviously important during
the transmitter and drift orbital phases of the satellite launch. When on-
station, a geo-stationary satellite will tend to shifted as a result of the
various distributing forces, as described previously . Therefore it is necessary
to be able to track the satellites movements and send correction signals as
required. Satellite range is also required for time to time. This can be
determined by measurement of propagation delay of signals specially
transmitted for ranging purposes.


A transponder is the series of interconnected units which forms a single

communication channel between the receive and transmit antennas in a
communication satellite. Some of the units utilized by a transponder in a
given channel may be common to a number of transponders. Thus,
although reference may be made to specific transponder, this must be
thought of as an equipment channel rather than single item of equipment.

Transponder consist of wideband receivers, input de-multiplexer, power

amplifier components.

Antenna sub system:

The Antennas carried abroad a satellite provide the dual functions of

receiving the up link and transmitting the down link signals. They range from
dipole-type antennas, where omni directional characteristics are required, to
the highly directional antennas required for telecommunications purposes
and TV relay and broadcasting.

In 1962, the American telecommunications giant AT&T launched the world's first
true communications
satellite, called Telstar. Since then, countless communications satellites have been
placed into earth orbit, and
the technology being applied to them is forever growing in sophistication.
Basic Elements
Satellite communications are comprised of 2 main components:
The Satellite
The satellite itself is also known as the space segment, and is composed of three
separate units, namely
the fuel system, the satellite and telemetry controls, and the transponder. The
transponder includes the
receiving antenna to pick-up signals from the ground station, a broad band receiver,
an input
multiplexer, and a frequency converter which is used to reroute the received signals
through a high
powered amplifier for downlink. The primary role of a satellite is to reflect electronic
signals. In the
case of a telecom satellite, the primary task is to receive signals from a ground station
and send them
down to another ground station located a considerable distance away from the first.
This relay action
can be two-way, as in the case of a long distance phone call. Another use of the
satellite is when, as is
the case with television broadcasts, the ground station's uplink is then downlinked
over a wide region,
so that it may be received by many different customers possessing compatible
equipment. Still another
use for satellites is observation, wherein the satellite is equipped with cameras or
various sensors, and
it merely downlinks any information it picks up from its vantagepoint.
The Ground Station.
This is the earth segment. The ground station's job is two-fold. In the case of an
uplink, or transmitting
station, terrestrial data in the form of baseband signals, is passed through a baseband
processor, an up
converter, a high powered amplifier, and through a parabolic dish antenna up to an
orbiting satellite. In
the case of a downlink, or receiving station, works in the reverse fashion as the uplink,
converting signals received through the parabolic antenna to base band signal.
Back to Table of Contents
Satellite Comunications (2 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]

Various Uses of Satellite Communications

Traditional Telecommunications
Since the beginnings of the long distance telephone network, there has been a need to
connect the
telecommunications networks of one country to another. This has been accomplished
in several ways.
Submarine cables have been used most frequently. However, there are many
occasions where a large
long distance carrier will choose to establish a satellite based link to connect to
transoceanic points,
geographically remote areas or poor countries that have little communications
infrastructure. Groups
like the international satellite consortium Intelsat have fulfilled much of the world's
need for this type
of service.
Various schemes have been devised to allow satellites to increase the bandwidth
available to ground
based cellular networks. Every cell in a cellular network divides up a fixed range of
channels which
consist of either frequencies, as in the case of FDMA systems, or time slots, as in the
case of TDMA.
Since a particular cell can only operate within those channels allocated to it,
overloading can occur. By
using satellites which operate at a frequency outside those of the cell, we can provide
extra satellite
channels on demand to an overloaded cell. These extra channels can just as easily be,
once free, used
by any other overloaded cell in the network, and are not bound by bandwidth
restrictions like those
used by the cell. In other words, a satellite that provides service for a network of cells
can allow its
own bandwidth to be used by any cell that needs it without being bound by terrestrial
bandwidth and
location restrictions.
Television Signals
Satellites have been used for since the 1960's to transmit broadcast television signals
between the
network hubs of television companies and their network affiliates. In some cases, an
entire series of
programming is transmitted at once and recorded at the affiliate, with each segment
then being
broadcast at appropriate times to the local viewing populace. In the 1970's, it became
possible for
private individuals to download the same signal that the networks and cable
companies were
transmitting, using c-band reception dishes. This free viewing of corporate content by
individuals led
to scrambling and subsequent resale of the descrambling codes to individual
customers, which started
the direct-to-home industry. The direct-to-home industry has gathered even greater
momentum since
the introduction of digital direct broadcast service.
C-Band (3.7 - 4.2 GHz) - Satellites operating in this band can be spaced as close as
two degrees
apart in space, and normally carry 24 transponders operating at 10 to 17 watts each.
receive antennas are 6 to 7.5 feet in diameter. More than 250 channels of video and 75
services are available today from more than 20 C-Band satellites over North America.
every cable programming service is delivered via C-Band. SBCA
n Fixed Satellite Service (FSS)
Satellite Comunications (3 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
Ku Band (11.7 - 12.2 GHz) - Satellites operating in this band can be spaced as closely
two degrees apart in space, and carry from 12 to 24 transponders that operate at a
range of powers from 20 to 120 watts each. Typical receive antennas are three to six
in diameter. More than 20 FSS Ku-Band satellites are in operation over North
today, including several "hybrid" satellites which carry both C-Band and Ku-Band
transponders. PrimeStar currently operates off Satcom K-2, an FSS or so-called
"medium-power" Ku-Band satellite. AlphaStar also uses an FSS-Ku Band satellite,
Telestar 402-R. SBCA
Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS)
Ku-Band (12.2 - 12.7 GHz) - Satellites operating in this band are spaced nine degrees
apart in space, and normally carry 16 transponders that operate at powers in excess of
watts. Typical receive antennas are 18 inches in diameter. The United States has been
allocated eight BSS orbital positions, of which three (101, 110 and 119 degrees) are
so-called prime "CONUS" slots from which a DBS provider can service the entire 48
contiguous states with one satellite. A total of 32 DBS "channels" are available at each
orbital position, which allows for delivery of some 250 video signals when digital
compression technology is employed. SBCA
DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite) -The transmission of audio and video signals via
satellite direct
to the end user. More than four million households in the United States enjoy C-Band
Medium-power Ku-Band DBS surfaced in the late 1990s with high power Ku-Band
launched in 1994. SBCA
Marine Communications
In the maritime community, satellite communication systems such as Inmarsat
provide good
communication links to ships at sea. These links use a VSAT type device to connect
geosynchronous satellites, which in turn link the ship to a land based point of presence
to the
respective nations telecommunications system.
Spacebourne Land Mobile
Along the same lines as the marine based service, there are VSAT devices which can
be used to
establish communication links even from the world's most remote regions. These
devices can be
hand-held, or fit into a briefcase. Digital data at 64K ISDN is available with some
Satellite Messaging for Commercial Jets
Another service provided by geosyncronous satellites are the ability for a passenger
on an airbourne
aircraft to connect directly to a landbased telecom network.
Global Positioning Services
Another VSAT oriented service, in which a small apparatus containing the ability to
navigational coordinates by calculating a triangulating of the signals from multiple
Satellite Comunications (4 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
Back to Table of Contents
Technological Overview
Satellites for Data
Incorporating satellites into terrestrial networks is often hindered by three
characteristics possessed by
satellite communication.
Latency (propagation delay): Due to the high altitudes of satellite orbits, the time
required for
a transmission to navigate a satellite link (more than 2/10ths of a second from earth
station to
earth station) could cause a variety of problems on a high speed terrestrial network
that is
waiting for the packets.
Poor Bandwidth: Due to radio spectrum limitations, there is a fixed amount of
allocable to satellite transmission.
Noise: A radio signals strength is in proportion to the square of the distance traveled.
Due to the
distance between ground station and satellite, the signal ultimately gets very weak.
This problem
can be solved by using appropriate error correction techniques, however. SULU
Error Correction
Due to the high noise present on a satellite link, numerous error correction techniques
have been tested
in on such links. They fall into the two categories of forward-error-correction (FEC)
automatic-repeat-request (ARQ):
Forward-error-correction (FEC)
In this method a certain number of information symbols are mapped to new
symbols, but in such a way as to get more symbols than were original had. When
these new
symbols are checked on the receiving end, the redundant symbols are used to decipher
original symbols, as well as to check for data integrity. The more redundant symbols
that are
included in the mapping, the better the reliability of the error correction. However it
should be
noted that the more redundant symbols that are used to achieve better integrity, the
bandwidth that is wasted. Since this method uses relatively a large amount redundant
data, it
may not be the most efficient choice on a clear channel. However when noise levels
are high,
FEC can more reliably ensure the integrity of the data.
Automatic-repeat-request (ARR)
In this method, data is broken into packets. Within each packet is included an error
key. This key is often of the cyclic redundancy check (CRC) sort. If the error code
reflects a loss
of integrity in a packet, the receiver can request the sender to resend that packet. ARR
is not
very good in a channel with high noise, since many retransmissions will be required,
and the
noise levels that corrupted the initial packet will be likely to cause corruption in
packets. ARR is more suitable to relatively noise free channels.
Satellite Comunications (5 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
Stop and Wait (SW)
With this form of ARR, the sender must wait for an acknowledgement of each packet
before it can send a new one. This can take upwards of 4/10ths of a second per packet
since it takes 2/10ths seconds for the receiver to get the packet an another 2/10th
for the sender to receive the acknowledgement.
Go-back-N (GBN)
This method of ARR is an improvement over stop and wait in that it allows the sender
keep sending packets until it gets a request for a resend. When the sender gets such a
request, it sends packets starting at the requested packet over again. It can again send
packets until it receives another retransmit request, and so on.
Selective-repeat (SR)
This ARR protocol is an improvement over GBN in that it allows the receiver to
request a
retransmit of only that packet that it needs, instead of that packet and all that follows
The receiver, after receiving a bad packet and requesting a retransmit, can continue to
accept any good packets that are coming. This method is the most efficient method for
satellite transmissions of the three ARR methods discussed.
ARR methods can be demonstrated to provide a usable error correction scheme, but it
also the most expensive, in terms of hardware. This is in part due to the buffering
that is required, but more importantly to the cost of the receiver, which needs to be
able to
transmit re-requests. Systems such as the Digital Broadcast Satellites used for
signal distribution would become inordinately expensive if they had to make use of
since the home based receiver would now need to be a transmitter, and the 18 inch
would be inadequate for the requirements of transmitting back to a satellite.
Hybrid Networks
In today's global networking landscape, there are many ways to transmit data from
one place to
another. It is desirable to be able to incorporate any type of data transmission media
into a network,
especially in networks that encompass large areas. A hybrid network is one that
allows data to flow
across a network, using many types of media, either satellite, wireless or terrestrial,
Since each type of media will have different characteristics, it is necessary to
implement a standard
transmission protocol. One that is normally used in hybrid networks is TCP/IP. In
addition, much work
is being done to use TCP/IP over ATM for the satellite segments of hybrid networks,
about which
more will be discussed later.
One way to get around the need in ARR for the receiver to have to request retransmit
via an expensive
and slow satellite link is to use a form of hybrid network. In one form of hybrid
network, the reciever
transmits its requests back to the sender via a terrestrial link. Terrestrial link allows
for quicker, more
economical and less error prone transmission from the reciever, and the costs
associated with the
receivers hardware are greatly reduced when compared to the costs involved if it had
to transmit back
over the satellite link. There are products on the market today that allow a home user
to get intenet
access at around 400MB via digital satellite, while its retransmit signals are sent via
an inexpensive
modem or ISDN line.
Satellite Comunications (6 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
In fact, a product currently being marketed by Direct PC called Turbo Internet uses a
form of hybrid
network. The system uses two network interfaces; one connects via a special ISA bus
PC adapter to a
receive-only Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT), while the other is a modem
attached to a serial
port. Inbound traffic comes down to the VSAT, while outbound traffic goes through
the modem link.
The two interfaces are combined to appear as a single virtual interface to upper layer
TCP/IP protocol
stacks by a special NDIS compliant driver. The Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) is
used to connect
the modem-based link with an internet service provider. Packets, which are
encapsulated by the
terminal such that the desired ip address of the destination host is embedded
underneath the IP address
of the Direct PC Gateway, to which all packets leaving the terminal must go. Once at
the gateway, the
outer packet is stripped, and the gateway contacts the destination address within.
Upon the gateway's
receiving the request from the host, it then prepares the packet for satellite
transmission, which is then
used to send the packet back to the terminal.
Satellite Comunications (7 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
This Picture's Source: Vivek Arora, Narin Suphasindhu, John S. Baras, Douglas
Back to Table of Contents
ATM Over Satellite
Two qualitites of Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) made it highly desirable for
implementation of satellite links within hybrid networks. The first is the ATM's
asynchrony and the
second is its ability to use variable transfer rates. In addition, ATM fits well into
existing networks
with its wide range of upper-layer services and its ability to operate in a wide range of
There are problems, however. ATM's relatively large propagation delays can
significantly increase the
latency of feedback mechanisms essential for congestion control. acquisition time, cell
in-synch time
Satellite Comunications (8 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
and cell discard probability (BARAS). Solutions to these issues are still being
The group that is currently working to develop interoperability specifications that
facilitate ATM
access and ATM network interconnect in both fixed and mobile satellite networks is
known as The
TIA/SCD/CIS - WATM group. As of March, 1997 they have proposed the following
SATATM Type 1 - Fixed ATM Direct Access
Fixed network access via satellite that is characterized by a large number of small
inexpensive user terminals and a small number of gateway earth stations. Provides for
radio interface of 64 kbit/s - NxE1 and a service interface of 2.4 kbit/s - NxE1 while
providing no mobility support
SATATM Type 2 - Fixed ATM Network Interconnect
High speed interconnections using PNNI, B-ICI, or Public UNI between earth stations
and fixed ATM networks.
Allows for a radio interface of T1 - 1.2 Gbit/s but provides no mobility support.
SATATM Type 3 - Mobile ATM Direct Access
ATM network access by mobile terminals. The radio interface provides for 64 kbit/s -
for moving, 64 kbit/s - NxE1 for portable terminals and the rervice interfaceallows for
bit/s - E1 for moving, 75 bits/s - NxE1 for portable terminals.
SATATM Type 4 - Mobile ATM Network Interconnect
High speed interconnections between mobile and fixed networks or between two
networks providing fast moving land-mobile data rates < NxE1 and slow-moving
data rates of < 622 Mbit/s.
The group also has established requirements for dealing with the physical layer, the
media access
control layer and the data link control layer.
SATIN - Satellite Integrated Terrestrial Network:
The goal of SATIN is to create a fully integrated hybrid network in which the method
communication, which can incorporate networks of local, metropolitan and wide area
Broadband ISDN, Integrated Network Management, AIN (Advanced Intelligent
Networks) and
PCS (Personal Communications Services), in addition to ATM (Asynchronous
Transfer Mode)
over satellite, is totally transparent to the user. The difficulties inherent in this are
Differences in latency, noise, bandwidth and reliability must be equalized in all the
media that
will encompass the network.
VSAT Networks
VSAT stands for Very Small Aperture Terminal. Although this acronym has been
used amongst
telecom groups for some time now to describe small earth stations, the concepts of
VSAT are being
applied to modern hand held satellite communications units, such as GPS (Global
Positioning System),
portable Inmarsat phones and other types of portable satellite communication devices.
l Orbits
Satellite Comunications (9 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
GEO stands for Geostationary Earth Orbit. This refers to satellites that are placed in
orbit such
that they remain stationary relative to a fixed spot on earth. If a satellite is placed at
35,900 km
above the earth, its angular velocity is equal to that of the earth, thereby causing it to
appear to
be over the same point on earth. This allows for them to provide constant coverage of
the area
and eliminate blackout periods of ordinary orbiting satellites, which is good for
television broadcasting. However their high altitude causes a long delay, so two way
communications, which would need to be uploaded and then downloaded over a
distance of
72,000 km, are not often used with this type of orbit.
LEO stands for Low Earth Orbit, and it refers to satellites in orbit at less that 22300
miles above
the earth. This type of an orbit reduces transmission times as compared to GEO. A
LEO orbit
can also be used to cover a polar region, which the GEO cannot accomplish. Since it
does not
appear stationary to earth stations, however, earth stations need an antenna assembly
that will
track the motion of the satellite.
The idea behind a constellation is to use to acheive global simultaneous satellite
coverage by placing
enough satellites into orbit so that (nearly) every point on earth is covered. There are
currently two
main types of service being planned at the moment, global voice and global data.
Global Voice Communications
There are currently several consortiums that are working on global voice via satellite.
of the most prominant is the IRIDIUM constellation, which will consist of 66
interconnected satellites orbiting 420 nautical miles above the earth. The satellites will
use a LEO orbit so that very small handheld terminals can be used by ground-based
cutomers. The system will use intersatellite crosslink transmissions that will take
place in
the Ka frequency band between 23.18 and 23.38 GHz. The IRIDIUM system will use
combination of Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA) and Time Division
Multiple Access (TDMA) signal multiplexing to make the most efficient. The L-Band
(1616-1626.5 MHz), is used to link the satellite and IRIDIUM the subscribers
The Ka-Band (19.4-19.6 GHz for downlinks and 29.1-29.3 GHz for uplinks) links the
satellite and the gateways and earth terminals.
Global Broadband Networks
There are basically two types of networks being proposed here, namely LEO based
and GEO
based ones.
LEO networks use low orbits, which allows for much less latency that do GEO based
networks. One problem that these satellites have is that since the are not geostationary
(they are contsantly orbiting around the earth) they cannot talk continuously to that
ground station. The way this is overcome is by using intesatellite communications, so
the sattellites function together as a blanket of coverage. A major player in this are is
Satellite Comunications (10 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
The Teledesic Network uses a constellation of 840 operational interlinked low-Earth
satellites. The system is planned to provide "on-demand" channel rates from 16 Kbps
to 2.048 Mbps ("E1"), and for special applications up to 1.24416 Gbps ("OC-24").
network uses fast packet switching technology based on the Asynchronous Transfer
(ATM) using fixed-length (512) bit packets.. Each satellite in the constellation is a
in the fast packet switch network, and has intersatellite communication links with
adjacent satellites. Each satellite is normally linked with four satellites within the
plane (two in front and two behind) and with one in each of the two adjacent planes
both sides. Each satellite keeps the same position relative to other satellites in its
plane. The Teledesic Network uses a combination of multiple access methods to
efficient use of the spectrum. Each cell within a supercell is assigned to one of nine
time slots. All communication takes place between the satellite and the terminals in
cell during its assigned time slot . Within each cell’s time slot, the full frequency
allocation is available to support communication channels. The cells are scanned in a
regular cycle by the satellite’s transmit and receive beams, resulting in time division
multiple access (TDMA) among the cells in a supercell. Since propagation delay
with path length, satellite transmissions are timed to ensure that cell N (N=1, 2, 3,...9)
all supercells receive transmissions at the same time. Terminal transmissions to a
are also timed to ensure that transmissions from the same numbered cell in all
in its coverage area reach that satellite at the same time. Physical separation (space
division multiple access (SDMA) and a checkerboard pattern of left and right circular
polarization eliminate interference between cells scanned at the same time in adjacent
supercells. Guard time intervals eliminate overlap between signals received from
time-consecutive cells. TELEDESIC
Satellite Comunications (11 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
Within each cell’s time slot, terminals use Frequency Division Multiple Access
on the uplink and Asynchronous Time Division Multiple Access (ATDMA) on the
downlink. On the uplink, each active terminal is assigned one or more frequency slots
the call’s duration and can send one packet per slot each scan period (23.111 msec).
number of slots assigned to a terminal determines its maximum available transmission
rate. One slot corresponds to a standard terminal’s 16 Kbps basic channel with its
associated 2 Kbps signaling and control channel. A total of 1800 slots per cell scan
interval are available for standard terminals. The terminal downlink uses the packet’s
header rather than a fixed assignment of time slots to address terminals. TELEDESIC
GEO's high points are that it's satellites are geostationary, which means that the
Satellite Comunications (12 of 14) [2/7/2000 11:01:13 AM]
difficulties of intersatellite communications are avoided. The problem arises due to
latency delays caused by the high orbit. Applications which rely on steady bandwidth,
like multimedia, will definately be affected.
Anirban Sengupta

Electronics & Communication Engineering Department

Asansol Engineering College
Kanyapur, Sen Raleigh Road, Asansol 713304, Burdwan, India

The first satellite that was used for communication purpose in INDIA was
ARYABHATTA and it was launched in 19th April.1975. It was made and assembled
by an organization called Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). In the year
1981, a satellite named APPLE was launched in space which was the first Indian
Experimental communication satellite. The unique feature of it was that it was a
three axis stabilization geosynchronous satellite and weighed around 645 kg. The
term APPLE is an abbreviation for Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment. It
consisted of a (6/4 Ghz) processing equipment called Transponder. Various
experiments were carried out with APPLE, [SITE, STEP (Other satellite
telecommunication experiment projects)] and the results obtained from these
experiments provided an impetus for Govt. of India to have its own multipurpose
Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite under INSAT (Indian National Satellite)
program. The first satellite INSAT-1A was launched in the year 1982 which was
under this INSAT program, but this effort went in vain as the power house of this
satellite consisting of solar cells did not operate properly( failed to open) and this
satellite was unused latter on. The average electrical power required by INSAT-1
was approximately 1000W and was provided by the power house subsystem of the
satellite. The payload was one C-band transponder and two S-band transponders.
Later succession of INSAT-1 series was launched like INSAT-1B, INSAT-C and INSAT-
D. After this due to the success of the first generation satellites, INSAT-2 series was
launched viz. INSAT-2A, INSAT-2B, INSAT-2C, INSAT-3D and INSAT-2E which
provided variety of services.

A Satellite is a solid object which revolves around some heavenly body due to the
effect of gravitational forces which are mutual in nature. We can categorize
satellites in two types, namely Passive Satellites and Active satellites. Passive
satellites are not like active satellites. Even a moon can be a passive satellite. Thus
passive satellites are relay stations in space. A passive satellite can be further
subdivided into two types, namely Natural satellites and artificial satellites. A moon
is a natural satellite of earth. But spherical balloon with metal coated plastic serve
as artificial satellites.

Active satellites are complicated structures having a processing equipment called

Transponder which is very vital for functioning of the satellite. These transponders
serve dual purpose i.e. provides amplification of the incoming signal and performs
the frequency translation of the incoming signal to avoid interference between the
two signals.

Uplink Downlink

ntenna Antenna

Earth station Earth station

Terrestrial Terrestrial
system system

User User

The term Satellite communication is very frequently used, but what is satellite
communication? It is simply the communication of the satellite in space with large
number of earth stations on the ground. Users are the ones who generate
baseband signals, which is processed at the earth station and then transmitted to
the satellite through dish antennas. Now the user is connected to the earth station
via some telephone switch or some dedicated link. The satellite receives the uplink
frequency and the transponder present inside the satellite does the processing
function and frequency down conversion in order to transmit the downlink signal at
different frequency. The earth station then receives the signal from the satellite
through parabolic dish antenna and processes it to get back the baseband signal.
This baseband signal is then transmitted to the respective user via dedicated link
or other terrestrial system. Previously satellite communication system used large
sized parabolic antennas with diameters around 30 meters because of the very
faint and weak signals received. But nowadays satellites have become much
stronger, bigger and powerful due to which antennas used have become
automatically smaller in size. Thus the earth station antennas are now not large in
size as the antennas used in olden days. A satellite communication system
operates and works in the millimeter and microwave wave frequency bands from 1
Ghz to 50 Ghz. There are various frequency bands utilized by satellites but the
most recognized of them is the uplink frequency of 6 Ghz and the downlink
frequency of 4 Ghz. Actually the uplink frequency band is 5.725 to 7.075 Ghz and
the actual downlink frequency band is from 3.4 to 4.8 Ghz. The major components
of a Satellite Communication system is spacecraft and one or more earth earths.

• Attitude & orbit control system:

This subsystem comprises of rocket motors that keeps the correct orientation of
the satellite in space by moving it back to the correct orbit. Various external forces
cause to change the parking position of the satellite. The primary factors are
gravitational forces of sun, moon earth and also other planets of solar system.
Other factors include solar pressure on the antennas and solar sails, which is
present on the body of the satellite. All these factors are hugely responsible for
misbalancing of the satellite and also responsible for changing the parking position
of the satellite. Apart from this the earth’s magnetic field is also playing a major
role in changing the parking position of satellite. The earth’s magnetic field
generates eddy currents in the metallic structure of the satellite as the satellite
moves through the magnetic field. Thus the body of the satellite gets rotated
called as wobble of the satellite.

Remedy for Misbalancing of the satellite: station keeping: It is a method of

periodically accelerating the satellite in the opposite direction against the forces
acting on the body of the satellite like gravitational forces, eddy currents etc. in
order to maintain the correct orientation of satellite in space and maintaining its
orbit. The two most common methods employed to keep the satellite stable in
orbit are: spin stabilization and three axes body stabilization.


These subsystems are found partly on the satellite and partly on the earth stations.
Data obtained from the sensors present on the spacecraft are sent by the
Telemetry systems through telemetry link to the controlling earth stations. The
telemetry system monitors the condition of the spacecraft. Furthermore the
Tracking system is present on the earth station which is all concerned about range,
azimuth angles and elevation angles of the spacecraft by providing necessary
information on it. There are various techniques used for tracking of satellite:

1. Velocity and acceleration sensors on the satellite can be used to

establish the change in orbit.

2. Doppler shift of the telemetry carrier from the earth station or beacon
transmitter may be measured to determine the rate at which the range is

3. Ranging tones may be used for range measurement.


This is required to run satellite’s housekeeping and communication system. The

block diagram of the power subsystem is shown as:

Solar panels generate direct current which is used to operate different subsystems.
The batteries like Nickel-Cadmium batteries are charged by the DC power by
employing the battery chargers. The stabilized low voltage is supplied to power
various subsystems which are generated by the voltage regulator circuits. A dc to
dc converter circuit generates high voltage dc which is used for operating the
traveling wave tube amplifiers. Generation of ac from dc is done by dc to ac
inverter circuits for running ac devices.
olar Panels


Power conditioning
Voltage DC to DC DC to DC
Regulators converters Inverter

Acting as
Buffers Low voltage High voltage AC

To all other

This subsystem can also be called as a reaction control subsystem. It is carried

by the satellite in the GEO orbit. The dominant functions of it are:

· It helps the spacecraft to move to its assigned position in orbit and also
helps to maintain it in that position.

· It is also used to maintain the direction of spin axis attitude control

against the perturbation forces.

The main components of propulsion subsystem are: Low thrust actuators,

High thrust motors eg: apogee kick motor, Apogee boost motor and
finally Perigee kick motor. Low thrust actuators are further classified as
Chemical thrusters and Electrical thrusters. These thrusters are used for
attitude and orbit corrections. Moreover the Electric thrusters are mainly of
two types 1.> Plasma thrusters 2.> Ion thrusters.


Antenna subsystem is also an essential component of satellite system. Basically
four main type of antennas are used: these are Monopoles and dipoles (wire
antennas) which are mainly used in VERY HIGH FREQUENCY AND ULTRA HIGH
FREQUENCY to provide communication for TTC and M subsystem. 2.> Horn
antennas are mainly used at microwave frequencies. Horns are actually used as
feeds for reflector. 3.> Array antennas are actually phased array antennas which
are used on satellites to form multiple beams from single aperture. 4> Reflector
antennas are commonly used for earth station antennas and the most widely
employed shape of it is the paraboloid with a feed placed at its focus. The patterns
for different satellite antennas are shown as:
Satellite Earth


Phased Array Multiple spot beam

Antenna & scanning beams
Global beam

Satellite polarization

Satellite polarization
Spot beam Orthogonally Polarized beams


ellite Two way
enna Microwave Gate

Carrier Power
Processing Amplifier

Likes of tunnel diode Likes of TWT

amplifiers & FETs E.g.: GaAs FET
which are basically solid
state microwave amplifier

.B. – The Front end Electronics consists of RF Filter, Equalizer, LNA

It is the key electronic component in a satellite. The transmitter receiver

combination in a satellite is known as a Transponder. It performs two major
functions 1.> It provides amplification of the signal thus providing a gain of around
110dB. 2> It also does the frequency down conversion or frequency translation of
the uplink signal in order to avoid interference between the received and the
transmitted signal.
Types of Transponders: 1. Bend pipe type Transponder 2. Regenerative type
Bend pipe type transponders are also called conventional type transponders.

Diplexer (acting as a two-way microwave gate) is the device which is responsible or

used by the satellite for both receiving the uplink signal and transmitting the
downlink signal. The frequency down conversion is done in the carrier processor.
Amplification of the weak received signal is done in the front end. The downlink
frequency is brought to a sufficient power level by amplification by the power
amplifier such as Traveling Wave tube. The carrier processing equipment
determines whether the transponder is of conventional or regenerative type

Regenerative Transponders: The regenerative transponder is one where there is

provision for detection and demodulation process. The main advantages for these
kind of transponders are:

· The signal to noise ratio is improved.

· These are simpler and more flexible to implement.

· At low baseband frequency the amplification is easier to obtain in case

of regenerative type.
Types of multi channel transponder systems:

• Broadband system

• Dual channelized system.

The various frequency translation schemes in use:


• RF-RF Translation: This is a single mixer system. The diagrams of it is

shown below:
Fro Multi
Powe To
m RF plier
Dipl Front
Ampl exe
exe end
ifier r
Stabl Frequ
e ency

Oscill Multi
• ator plier
RF-IF-RF translation schemes: This is a double conversion scheme using
a single stable oscillator. This kind of translation scheme provides two
advantages over RF-RF conversion scheme: 1. The process of carrier
filtering is done at the IF band. 2. Before the return transmitted signal the
uplink carriers can Mbe easily removed. The diagram of it is shown below:
RF Powe
Fro e IF r To
m Fron r Modu
t lator
er Ampl Dipl
Dipl end Frequ Frequ ifier exe
exe ency ency r
Multi Multi
plier Stabl plier


The two common schemes are:

• IF Remodulation scheme: In this technique the uplink RF spectrum

is first translated down to low IF band , which is then modulated on to
return RF.

• Demodulation- Remodulation scheme: The remodulation removes

the uplink noise and interference from return modulation.


Satellites are launched into its orbit by the satellite launch vehicles. These
satellite launch vehicles are basically multistage rockets. It is classified into two

• Expendable launch vehicle (ELV) eg: Ariane, Delta etc. These

vehicles get destroyed in space and it also carries more than one satellite
with it.

• Reusable launch vehicle (RLV). Also known as space

transportation system (STV) eg: Space shuttle. In case of these
satellites the vehicle will return back to the earth after leaving the
satellite in space. Thus they can be reused again and again.
Components of Launch vehicle:

• Propulsion system.
• Auto piloting system

• Aerodynamic structure

• Interactive steering subsystem


• For communication satellites the range is much higher than that of

communication relay. Communication Satellite can cover up to several
thousand kilometers.

• For communication satellite the uplink and the downlink frequency is

the same. But for communication satellites the uplink and the downlink
frequencies are different in order to avoid interference.

Different frequency bands used in satellite communication:

• Ultra high frequency band (UHF).

• C-Band.

• X-Band.

• Ku-Band

• Ka-Band.
A communications satellite (sometimes abbreviated to COMSAT) is an artificial satellite
stationed in space for the purpose of telecommunications. Modern communications satellites use
a variety of orbits including geostationary orbits, Molniya orbits, other 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 submarine 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, for which application of other technologies, such as cable, is
impractical or impossible.


• 1 History
o 1.1 Geostationary orbits
o 1.2 Low-Earth-orbiting satellites
o 1.3 Molniya satellites
• 2 Applications
o 2.1 Telephone
o 2.2 Satellite television
 2.2.1 Fixed Service Satellite
 2.2.2 Direct broadcast satellite
o 2.3 Mobile satellite technologies
o 2.4 Satellite radio
o 2.5 Amateur radio
o 2.6 Satellite Internet
o 2.7 Military uses
• 3 See also
• 4 References

• 5 External links

[edit] History
See: Geostationary Orbit and Geosynchronous orbit Satellites.

The first artificial satellite was the Soviet Sputnik 1, launched on October 4, 1957, and equipped
with an on-board radio-transmitter that worked on two frequencies, 20.005 and 40.002 MHz. 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 an 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.
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. Telstar was placed in an elliptical orbit (completed once every
2 hours and 37 minutes), rotating at a 45° angle above the equator.

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.

[edit] Geostationary orbits

Main article: Geostationary orbit

Geostationary orbit

A satellite in a geostationary orbit appears to be in a fixed position to an earth-based observer. A

geostationary satellite revolves around the earth at a constant speed once per day over the

The geostationary orbit is useful for communications applications because ground based
antennas, which must be directed toward the satellite, can operate effectively without the need
for expensive equipment to track the satellite’s motion. Especially for applications that require a
large number of ground antennas (such as direct TV distribution), the savings in ground
equipment can more than justify the extra cost and onboard complexity of lifting a satellite into
the relatively high geostationary orbit.

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. 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.

The first truly geostationary satellite launched in orbit was the Syncom 3, launched on August
19, 1964. It was placed in orbit at 180° east longitude, over the International Date Line. It was
used that same year to relay experimental television coverage of the 1964 Summer Olympics in
Tokyo, Japan to the United States, making these Olympic games the first to be broadcast
internationally. Although Syncom 3 is some times credited with the first television transmission
to cross the Pacific Ocean, the Relay 1 satellite first broadcast from the United States to Japan on
November 22, 1963.[1]

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,'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 Telstar, Syncom 3, Early Bird, Anik A1, and Westar 1, 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.

[edit] Low-Earth-orbiting satellites

Main article: Low Earth orbit
Low Earth orbit in Cyan

A Low Earth Orbit (LEO) typically is a circular orbit about 400 kilometres above the earth’s
surface and, correspondingly, a period (time to revolve around the earth) of about 90 minutes.
Because of their low altitude, these satellites are only visible from within a radius of roughly
1000 kilometres from the sub-satellite point. In addition, satellites in low earth orbit change their
position relative to the ground position quickly. So even for local applications, a large number of
satellites are needed if the mission requires uninterrupted connectivity.

Low earth orbiting satellites are less expensive to launch into orbit than geostationary satellites
and, due to proximity to the ground, do not require as high signal strength (Recall that signal
strength falls off as the square of the distance from the source, so the effect is dramatic). Thus
there is a trade off between the number of satellites and their cost. In addition, there are
important differences in the onboard and ground equipment needed to support the two types of

A group of satellites working in concert is known as a satellite constellation. Two such

constellations, intended to provide satellite phone services, primarily to remote areas, are the
Iridium and Globalstar systems. The Iridium system has 66 satellites. Another LEO satellite
constellation known as Teledesic, with backing from Microsoft entrepreneur Paul Allen, was to
have over 840 satellites. This was later scaled back to 288 and ultimately ended up only
launching one test satellite.

It is also possible to offer discontinuous coverage using a low Earth orbit satellite capable of
storing data received while passing over one part of Earth and transmitting it later while passing
over another part. This will be the case with the CASCADE system of Canada’s CASSIOPE
communications satellite. Another system using this store and forward method is Orbcomm.

[edit] Molniya satellites

Main article: Molniya orbit
As mentioned, geostationary satellites are constrained to operate above the equator. As a
consequence, they are not always suitable for providing services at high latitudes: at high
latitudes, a geostationary satellite will appear low on the horizon, affecting connectivity and
causing multipath (interference caused by signals reflecting off the ground and into the ground
antenna). The first satellite of the Molniya series was launched on April 23, 1965 and was used
for experimental transmission of TV signal from a Moscow uplink station to downlink stations
located in Siberia and the Russian Far East, in Norilsk, Khabarovsk, Magadan and Vladivostok.
In November of 1967 Soviet engineers created a unique system of national TV network of
satellite television, called Orbita, that was based on Molniya satellites.

Molniya orbits can be an appealing alternative in such cases. The Molniya orbit is highly
inclined, guaranteeing good elevation over selected positions during the northern portion of the
orbit. (Elevation is the extent of the satellite’s position above the horizon. Thus, a satellite at the
horizon has zero elevation and a satellite directly overhead has elevation of 90 degrees).

Furthermore, the Molniya orbit is designed so that the satellite spends the great majority of its
time over the far northern latitudes, during which its ground footprint moves only slightly. Its
period is one half day, so that the satellite is available for operation over the targeted region for
eight hours every second revolution. In this way a constellation of three Molniya satellites (plus
in-orbit spares) can provide uninterrupted coverage.

Molniya satellites are typically used for telephony and TV services over Russia. Another
application is to use them for mobile radio systems (even at lower latitudes) since cars travelling
through urban areas need access to satellites at high elevation in order to secure good
connectivity, e.g. in the presence of tall buildings.

[edit] Applications
[edit] Telephone

An Iridium satellite

The first and historically most important application for communication satellites was in
intercontinental long distance telephony. The fixed Public Switched Telephone Network relays
telephone calls from land line telephones to an earth station, where they are then transmitted to a
geostationary satellite. The downlink follows an analogous path. Improvements in submarine
communications cables, through the use of fiber-optics, caused some decline in the use of
satellites for fixed telephony in the late 20th century, but they still serve remote islands such as
Ascension Island, Saint Helena, Diego Garcia, and Easter Island, where no submarine cables are
in service. There are also regions of some continents and countries where landline
telecommunications are rare to nonexistent, for example large regions of South America, Africa,
Canada, China, Russia, and Australia. Satellite communications also provide connection to the
edges of Antarctica and Greenland.

Satellite phones connect directly to a constellation of either geostationary or low-earth-orbit

satellites. Calls are then forwarded to a satellite teleport connected to the Public Switched
Telephone Network

[edit] Satellite television

Main article: Satellite television

As television became the main market, its demand for simultaneous delivery of relatively few
signals of large bandwidth to many receivers being a more precise match for the capabilities of
geosynchronous comsats. Two satellite types are used for North American television and radio:
Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS), and Fixed Service Satellite (FSS)

The definitions of FSS and DBS satellites outside of North America, especially in Europe, are a
bit more ambiguous. Most satellites used for direct-to-home television in Europe have the same
high power output as DBS-class satellites in North America, but use the same linear polarization
as FSS-class satellites. Examples of these are the Astra, Eutelsat, and Hotbird spacecraft in orbit
over the European continent. Because of this, the terms FSS and DBS are more so used
throughout the North American continent, and are uncommon in Europe.

[edit] Fixed Service Satellite

Main article: Fixed Service Satellite

Fixed Service Satellites use the C band, and the lower portions of the Ku bands. They are
normally used for broadcast feeds to and from television networks and local affiliate stations
(such as program feeds for network and syndicated programming, live shots, and backhauls), as
well as being used for distance learning by schools and universities, business television (BTV),
Videoconferencing, and general commercial telecommunications. FSS satellites are also used to
distribute national cable channels to cable television headends.

Free-to-air satellite TV channels are also usually distributed on FSS satellites in the Ku band. The
Intelsat Americas 5, Galaxy 10R and AMC 3 satellites over North America provide a quite large
amount of FTA channels on their Ku band transponders.

The American DISH Network DBS service has also recently utilized FSS technology as well for
their programming packages requiring their SuperDish antenna, due to Dish Network needing
more capacity to carry local television stations per the FCC's "must-carry" regulations, and for
more bandwidth to carry HDTV channels.

[edit] Direct broadcast satellite

Main article: Direct broadcast satellite
A direct broadcast satellite is a communications satellite that transmits to small DBS satellite
dishes (usually 18 to 24 inches or 45 to 60 cm in diameter). Direct broadcast satellites generally
operate in the upper portion of the microwave Ku band. DBS technology is used for DTH-
oriented (Direct-To-Home) satellite TV services, such as DirecTV and DISH Network in the
United States, Bell TV and Shaw Direct in Canada, Freesat and Sky Digital in the UK, the
Republic of Ireland, and New Zealand.

Operating at lower frequency and lower power than DBS, FSS satellites require a much larger
dish for reception (3 to 8 feet (1 to 2.5m) in diameter for Ku band, and 12 feet (3.6m) or larger
for C band). They use linear polarization for each of the transponders' RF input and output (as
opposed to circular polarization used by DBS satellites), but this is a minor technical difference
that users do not notice. FSS satellite technology was also originally used for DTH satellite TV
from the late 1970s to the early 1990s in the United States in the form of TVRO (TeleVision
Receive Only) receivers and dishes. It was also used in its Ku band form for the now-defunct
Primestar satellite TV service.

Satellites for communication have now[when?] been launched that have transponders in the Ka band,
such as DirecTV's SPACEWAY-1 satellite, and Anik F2. NASA as well has launched
experimental satellites using the Ka band recently.

[edit] Mobile satellite technologies

Initially available for broadcast to stationary TV receivers, by 2004 popular mobile direct
broadcast applications made their appearance with that arrival of two satellite radio systems in
the United States: Sirius and XM Satellite Radio Holdings. Some manufacturers have also
introduced special antennas for mobile reception of DBS television. Using Global Positioning
System (GPS) technology as a reference, these antennas automatically re-aim to the satellite no
matter where or how the vehicle (on which the antenna is mounted) is situated. These mobile
satellite antennas are popular with some recreational vehicle owners. Such mobile DBS antennas
are also used by JetBlue Airways for DirecTV (supplied by LiveTV, a subsidiary of JetBlue),
which passengers can view on-board on LCD screens mounted in the seats.

[edit] Satellite radio

Main article: Satellite radio

Satellite radio offers audio services in some countries, notably the United States. Mobile services
allow listeners to roam a continent, listening to the same audio programming anywhere.

A satellite radio or subscription radio (SR) is a digital radio signal that is broadcast by a
communications satellite, which covers a much wider geographical range than terrestrial radio

Satellite radio offers a meaningful alternative to ground-based radio services in some countries,
notably the United States. Mobile services, such as Sirius, XM, and Worldspace, allow listeners
to roam across an entire continent, listening to the same audio programming anywhere they go.
Other services, such as Music Choice or Muzak's satellite-delivered content, require a fixed-
location receiver and a dish antenna. In all cases, the antenna must have a clear view to the
satellites. In areas where tall buildings, bridges, or even parking garages obscure the signal,
repeaters can be placed to make the signal available to listeners.

Radio services are usually provided by commercial ventures and are subscription-based. The
various services are proprietary signals, requiring specialized hardware for decoding and
playback. Providers usually carry a variety of news, weather, sports, and music channels, with
the music channels generally being commercial-free.

In areas with a relatively high population density, it is easier and less expensive to reach the bulk
of the population with terrestrial broadcasts. Thus in the UK and some other countries, the
contemporary evolution of radio services is focused on Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB)
services or HD Radio, rather than satellite radio.

[edit] Amateur radio

Amateur radio operators have access to the OSCAR satellites that have been designed
specifically to carry amateur radio traffic. Most such satellites operate as spaceborne repeaters,
and are generally accessed by amateurs equipped with UHF or VHF radio equipment and highly
directional antennas such as Yagis or dish antennas. Due to launch costs, most current amateur
satellites are launched into fairly low Earth orbits, and are designed to deal with only a limited
number of brief contacts at any given time. Some satellites also provide data-forwarding services
using the AX.25 or similar protocols.

[edit] Satellite Internet

Main article: Satellite Internet access

After the 1990s, satellite communication technology has been used as a means to connect to the
Internet via broadband data connections. This can be very useful for users who are located in
very remote areas, and cannot access a broadband connection.

[edit] Military uses

Communications satellites are used for military communications applications, such as Global
Command and Control Systems. Examples of military systems that use communication satellites
are the MILSTAR, the DSCS, and the FLTSATCOM of the United States, NATO satellites,
United Kingdom satellites, and satellites of the former Soviet Union. Many military satellites
operate in the X-band, and some also use UHF radio links, while MILSTAR also utilizes Ka

[edit] See also