HAC Receives Basic Patent On Spin-Stabilized Satellites—Hughes News September 14, 1973

Invention by Don Williams

The U. S, Patent Office has issued a basic patent to Hughes Aircraft Company titled Velocity Control and Orientation of a Spin-stabilized Body, which covers attitude control of spin-stabilized satellites.

The patent, number 3,758,051, was awarded for an application filed Aug. 21, 1964, derived from an earlier application filed April 18, 1960.

The inventor was the late Don Williams, a Hughes engineer who worked on the early development of synchronous satellites, including Syncom II, the world’s first successful synchronous-orbit satellite, launched July 26, 1963. The same technology has been used on subsequent generations of communications satellites, including the current series of Intelsat IVs, five of which now provide worldwide satellite communications for telephony, color television, teletype, data and facsimile.

The invention achieves attitude control of spin-stabilized satellites by using synchronized gas pulses that apply the necessary reactive force to the satellite in a predetermined amount and direction to alter the spin axis alignment.

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About Jack Fisher

Jack was a systems engineer at Hughes from 1961 to 1992. He contributed to various programs including Surveyor, Pioneer Venus, Galileo, Intelsat VI and innumerable proposals. He was the manager of of the Spacecraft Systems Engineering Lab until his retirement. Upon retirement Jack taught systems engineering at a number of national and international venues.