Liftoff occurred at 10:52 p.m. PDT, and Thuraya-1's first signals were received about 2 hours and 20 minutes later at Italy's Fucino ground station, confirming that systems are operating normally
Liftoff occurred at 10:52 p.m. PDT, and Thuraya-1's first signals were received about 2 hours and 20 minutes later at Italy's Fucino ground station, confirming that systems are operating normally. Thuraya-1 is the first satellite to be launched under Boeing Satellite Systems Inc. (BSS), the company formed when The Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) purchased Hughes Space and Communications Co. earlier this month.
"Tonight's successful launch is a double milestone," noted Tig H. Krekel, president of Boeing Satellite Systems. "Thuraya-1 is the first Boeing GEM (for geosynchronous mobile) satellite to launch, and this marks our entry into providing a complete space-based mobile communications system. This turnkey system includes the satellite, the ground segment and the mobile telephones with the capabilities to provide mobile telephone service to nearly 1.8 billion people."
The satellite, based on the Boeing 702 (formerly the Hughes 702) body-stabilized design, will operate in geostationary orbit, transmitting and receiving calls through a single 12.25-meter aperture reflector. On-board digital signal processing will route calls directly from one handheld unit to another or through a terrestrial network.
Under the $960 million contract signed in 1997, Hughes agreed to provide a complete space-based mobile communications system that will serve the Middle East, North and Central Africa, Europe, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The project includes manufacture of two high-power Boeing GEM satellites, launch of the first spacecraft, insurance, ground facilities in the United Arab Emirates and user handsets.
The second spacecraft is a ground spare, and there is an option for a third satellite. Portions of the ground segment, as well as the telephone handsets, were subcontracted to Hughes Network Systems Inc.
"The Thuraya system is unprecedented in capability," Krekel added. "The on-board processor constantly changes the beam configuration to match fluctuating usage patterns and make the most efficient use of the bandwidth available. In addition, the digital processor flexibly forms and switches many thousands of user channels simultaneously. This gives Thuraya unprecedented ability to meet ever-changing market demands."
The Thuraya communications payload design was one of the most powerful ever undertaken by Hughes, now Boeing, and uses an enhanced active phased-array antenna design in combination with a company- developed state-of-the-art, digital signal processor for beam forming, channel formation and switching. The spot beams can be redirected on-orbit, wherever needed, from big cities to rural areas and even at sea. Thuraya has the capacity for 13,750 simultaneous calls.
Thuraya-1 will be positioned at 44 degrees East longitude, with a contracted life of 12 years in geosynchronous orbit. Power is derived from two wings of panels, each with dual-junction gallium arsenide solar cells.
BSS is the world's leading manufacturer of commercial communications satellites, and is also a major provider of space systems, satellites and payloads for national defense, science and environmental applications. The company was formed in October 2000 when Boeing acquired the Hughes Electronics satellite manufacturing companies, which included Hughes Space and Communications Company, Hughes Electron Dynamics, Spectrolab Inc. and Hughes Electronics' share of the HRL research facilities in Malibu, Calif.