Apollo, Public Applications
Plans for a two-ocean system of commercial communications satellites to link tow-thirds of the world by television and telephone and to aid in America’s attempt to land men on the moon moved ahead when the Communications Satellite Corporation (Comsat) awarded HAC an $11.7 million contract to build four 303A satellites.
The satellites function is to provide satellite communications for the first time in the Pacific area and provide instant voice contact between the Apollo moon astronauts, the Space Flight Center at Houston, Tex., and the various ground stations during Apollo’s earth-orbiting phase.
Bigger, More Powerful
John H. Richardson, senior vice president and Aerospace Group executive, said the new satellites will have three times the transmitter power of Early Bird, the world’s first commercial communications satellite, and will be twice its size (56 inches in diameter and 26 inches high.
Early Bird, also built for Comsat by Hughes, was launched fro Cape Kennedy last April and has been in commercial operation between the United States and Europe since June. Among notable news events televised through Early Bird to Europe were the U. S. visit of Pope Paul and the launching of Gemini V with astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad.
The new satellites, unlike Early Bird whose squinted antenna concentrated its beam between western Europe and the U. S., will have broader antenna coverage over a wider global area and will be able to carry multiple conversations among several stations simultaneously.
Launch Next Summer
Launch of the new satellites is scheduled for late next summer, when the spacecraft are sent, separately into synchronous orbits 22.300 miles above the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The Atlantic satellite will be place in space above the Ivory Coast of western Africa and the Pacific satellite will be positioned near the International Dateline in the Pacific.
The global coverage of the satellites is expected to enable voice contact with the Apollo astronauts to be made directly from ground terminals in contact with the orbiting spacemen. These reports will be flashed directly to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration control center in Houston.
Satellite communications with the astronauts will be continuous via ships and ground stations deployed around the world.
Nine ground terminals are planned to meet the communications requirements of the program. Three will be operated by Comsat. These will be transportable terminals with 42-foot antennas which will be located at Andover, Me., Brewster Flat, Wash., and Paumalu, Oahu, Hawaii.
Three shipboard terminals, provided by the U. S, government, will be located in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans during the Apollo orbits. Three others will be fixed terminals provided by the United Kingdom on Ascension Island in the Atlantic, by Australia at Carnarvon, and by Spain on Grand Canary Island.
An advanced satellite antenna design developed by Hughes will permit direct contact with several ground stations simultaneously and provide for greater commercial use without any degradation or loss of power in the transmitted signals.
Tight Schedule Set
The HS-303A team faces the stern test of delivering the first satellite to Comsat by July 13 and the second just 21 days later if it is to realize the maximum incentive fee, R. M. “Dick” Bentley, Syncom/HS 303 program manager reports.
Work under the new $11.7 million contract started Nov. 15 and the first flight spacecraft is to be delivered 240 days later Mr. Bentley said. Deliveries of the second and third satellites follow in 21-day periods.
Editors Note: These spacecraft were later given the designation Intelsat II. The first spacecraft was launched in October 1966, but suffered an apogee motor failure and did not achieve a geosynchronous orbit. The remaining three spacecraft, launched during 1967 were successful and were retired after their three-year design lifetimes.