Westar makes headlines—Hughes News November 3, 1978

….and the rest of the paper too

Newspaper transmissions through communications satellites is now an everyday transfer for the Wall Street Journal which uses the Hughes

Owned by Western Union the Westar domestic satellite system has two spacecraft in synchronous orbit 22,300 miles above the equator and a third satellite is being held by Western Union as a launch-ready spare.

The daily process begins at the Journal’s Palo Alto plant where the stories are written, the type is set, and the page layouts are created.

Next, the page is “read” by an optical scanner using high intensity light and converted into electronic impulses.

The impulses are beamed into space to a Westar satellite at the rate of 300,000 bits of information per second.

This is done to send the Journal to regional printing plants in Seattle, Riverside, and Denver, where editions are printed and distributed to subscribers in the Northwest, southern California, and Rocky Mountain areas, respectively.

The signals are received by giant, dish-shaped antennas 33 feet in diameter and, with the use of lasers and photo film, the signals and translated back into the original images of Journal pages.

It takes less than 10 minutes to then convert the page from film into metal for use on the printing press. It takes 3-1/2 minutes for each page to be sent and received.

The Journal’s first experience with satellite transmission was in the fall of 1973 when a facsimile of a Journal page was transmitted to an Intelsat IV, also a Hughes built satellite, above the Atlantic Ocean.

The return signal was captured on an adjacent receiver with the transmitted page reproduced in 6 minutes, 12 seconds.

This entry was posted in Projects/Missions and tagged , by Jack Fisher. Bookmark the permalink.

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.