Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

ACeS' Garuda 1 telephone satellite takes orbital slot
Posted: March 1, 2000

  Garuda 1
An artist's concept of the ACeS Garuda 1 satellite in space. Photo: Lockheed Martin
Garuda-1, the first satellite that will serve the geo-based mobile telephone communications market in Asia, reached its final orbital location at 123 degrees East on Feb. 28. In addition, the spacecraft has completed a number of critical milestones, and has completed its subsystem deployments.

The satellite, which is being flown from the A2100 Satellite Operations Center, is performing nominally as it undergoes the on-orbit test regimen.

The satellite first completed the five scheduled liquid apogee engine burns to raise the satellite to geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the earth over a period from Feb. 13 through Feb. 22. Nominal attitude was attained at 9:35 am PST Feb. 23, and the spacecraft achieved earth lock five minutes later. Solar arrays were deployed 11:50 am PST Feb. 23 and the umbrella-shaped antennas were deployed at 11:51 am PST on Feb. 24. The 12-meter antennas are the largest deployed on a commercial satellite, and enable users to communicate via the satellite with handsets the size of an ordinary cell phone with a cigar-sized antenna.

"We're very pleased with the successful subsystem deployments and initial performance of the satellite during the in-orbit check-out procedures," said Craig Renton, director of geo mobile programs at Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems.

Garuda-1 is the first satellite of a constellation that will comprise the Asia Cellular Satellite (ACeS) System. ACeS is an advanced mobile telephony and data service communication system that will enable customers equipped with hand-held terminals to communicate globally via high-quality, low cost digital signals that will provide access to wireless voice, data, and fax services. Additionally, the system is compatible with GSM standards for roaming capabilities.

The ACeS System is owned by Bermuda-based ASIA Cellular Satellite (ACeS) International, with primary shareholders Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications, the Philippines Long Distance Telephone Company and Jasmine International Overseas Company Ltd.

The Proton rocket rumbles to life on its Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad with Garuda 1 aboard. Photo: ILS
The satellite was successfully launched Feb. 13 at 1:10 AM Pacific Time on an International Launch Services-provided Proton-D1e rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

Garuda-1 is a 14 kilowatt satellite at the beginning of life and an end-of-life power capacity of nine kilowatts, making it one of the most powerful telecommunications satellites ever launched. With a mass of 4,500 kilograms, the satellite is the largest built in the Commercial Satellite Center in Sunnyvale, CA, and the largest commercial payload to be launched on a Proton rocket.

The satellite operates with the terrestrial gateways in C-band, but interfaces with the mobile subscriber terminals in L-band via 140 spot beams that cover the whole of Asia to provide geo-based mobile telephony, providing coverage to nearly 3.5 billion people -- about 60 percent of the world's population. In addition, the ACeS spacecraft is capable of handling between two million and three million subscribers and up to five billion minutes of telecommunications traffic per year.

The satellite is planned to begin service in a few months, following in-orbit checkout operations.

The second ACeS satellite, Garuda-2, will serve first as a back-up to Garuda-1, and then allow the ACeS system to expand coverage to western and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and northern Africa. Garuda-2 is being built at the Lockheed Martin Commercial Satellite Center.

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