SCG Selected for Intelsat VI Contract Negotiations—SCG Journal February 1982 transcribed by Faith MacPherson

Decision Made at Washington, D.C. Meeting

It’s official. On Friday, February 12, the board of governors of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT) authorized the director general to negotiate a contract for the Intelsat VI series of communications spacecraft with Hughes Space and Communications Group.

Dr. Albert Wheelon, SCG president, and other Group executives left Monday for Washington D.C., to meet with INTELSAT’s director general, Santiago Astrain. Negotiations began on Tuesday.

Astrain said that the choice of Hughes was the result of a balanced assessment of the total submission from the bidders, including financial, contractual, and technical proposals for the satellites.

“Intelsat VI is the largest and most expensive commercial communications satellite program ever planned,” said Dick Brandes, manager of SCG’s Commercial Systems Division. But, he pointed out, I-VI is comparable in size to programs SCG has managed for the U.S. Government. INTELSAT’s initial request is for five “hybrid” (C and K band) spacecraft, with options for three more. However, anticipated follow-ons could raise the final number of Intelsat VI satellites to as many as 16.

According to INTELSAT, total value of the satellites could amount to more than $1 billion. The Intelsat VI series of satellites will be capable of relaying the equivalent of more than 30,000 telephone calls and several TV programs simultaneously, according to INTELSAT. This compares with the 12,000 telephone calls and TV capacity of Intelsat V, currently the world’s largest commercial communications satellite.

Intelsat VI is an unusually large satellite. It is 12 feet in diameter. In its on-orbit configuration, the satellite will stand nearly 40 feet tall – almost twice the deployed height of an HS 376 satellite. Its communications payload has 50 channels, compared to 24 channels for most HS 376 models.

Brandes noted that the Hughes design for Intelsat VI borrows heavily from two satellites now in production at SCG – the HS 376 “extended power spinner, “and widebody “shuttle-optimized” spacecraft like LEASAT. Intelsat VI will use high-energy nickel hydrogen (NiH2) batteries developed for SCG widebody satellite programs. And it borrows the telescoping solar panel idea and much of the interior configuration from the HS 376.

Solar cells on Intelsat VI’s 25-foot-tall solar drums will generate over 2,200 watts of power. In comparison, the widebody LEASAT will produce 1,238 watts, and HS 376 spacecraft generate around 900 watts. Intelsat VI’s advanced antenna farm will provide a variety of radio wave transmission coverages – beams transmitting to entire hemispheres, “global” beams, focused regional beams, and very narrow spot beams for broadcasting high-speed data.

Hughes will be supported in its Intelsat VI manufacturing effort by an international team of aerospace companies. Nippon Electric Company (Japan), Spar Aerospace, COMDEV (both of Canada), and Thomson-CSF (France) will build communications payload components. British Aerospace (England), MBB, AEG Telefunken (both of Germany), and Selenia (Italy) will manufacture various bus subsystems. British Aerospace will also supply the spacecraft carrier and cradle for I-VI space shuttle launches.

INTELSAT and Hughes: 17 Years of Working Together

 INTELSAT’s selection of Hughes continues a long and cordial working relationship that began in 1965 with the launch of the Hughes-built Early Bird satellite. Since that time, Hughes has provided the international communications entity with its own increasingly capable and sophisticated spacecraft.

Intelsat II’s were twice as large and had twice the power of Early Bird. Four were launched in 1967, operated successfully during their three year design lives, and then retired. Seven Intelsat IV’s and five Intelsat IVA’s, all built by SCG, now form the backbone of the INTELSAT system. This run of Hughes-built INTELSAT spacecraft has been interrupted twice – by the procurement of Intelsat III’s from TRW, and the Intelsat V contract with Ford.

Ford was the only other bidder for Intelsat VI – possibly because, as SCG President Albert Wheelon noted in last year’s “State of the Group” message, “Most aerospace companies seem to find a billion dollar, firm fixed price program too challenging for their financial peace of mind.”

INTELSAT said that negotiations are being undertaken with Hughes with “the view of reaching mutually agreed contractual arrangements.” If, however, this proves impossible, negotiations will be opened with Ford, according to INTELSAT.

Present plans indicate a negotiated and signed Intelsat VI contract by the end of March. The first spacecraft will be delivered 44 months after program go-ahead. First launch of Intelsat VI Is scheduled for 1986.

Present plans indicate a negotiated and signed Intelsat VI contract by the end of March. The first spacecraft will be delivered 44 months after program go-ahead. First launch of Intelsat VI Is scheduled for 1986.


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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.