Communication Satellites


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A communication Satellite is  an artificial satellite used to aid telecommunications by reflecting or relaying a radio signal. The first communication satellite was launched by the Soviets called Sputnik 1 on Octorober 4, 1957. America soon followed with project Score in 1958 during the race for space.(Whalen) These satellites just were for simple radio communications. The way a communication satellite works is like bouncing messages off a mirror in space to either a spead or fixed location. There are various patterns of orbit that the satellite rotates with or around the Earth. AT&T was the first company to put an active relay satellite (back then owned by Telstar) which NASA launched on July 10, 1962.(Whalen) The satellites use radio bands and wavelenghts to send messages back and forth.



Billion dollar industry


 "Satellite communications is also the only truly commercial space technology- -generating billions of dollars annually in sales of products and services." (Whalen) By 1964 there were 6 satellites total 2 of which were AT&T.(Whalen) This set up the telephone industry to be capable of long distance phone calls. Instead of using the typical land line people would be using the service of a geostationary satellite.

Satellite television and radio has also added to the profits of satellite owners. Satellite television has a small number of businesses that compete agaisnt each other. However the main three companies are DIRECTV, DISH network and Sky Angel. Dish network has 10 satellites and more than 12.5 million customers, while DIRECTV has 15 satellites and 14.5 million customers. Sky angel just feeds off of DISH netowrks satellites.("satellite tv guide") So in essensce they are a thrid party seller. So you see that just in 25 satellites an entire industry is booming over an entire continent.

Satellite radio is in near every car produced today and majority of customers have satellite television. Now, there are costs of maintaining the satellite along with runing the business however even with those costs these companies are able to profit billions of dollars. Sirius and XM are two of the companies in the satellite radio business that have boomed with the intertwining of mobile satellite radio and cars. what satellite radio allows is for a customer to listen to the same station from coast to coast, state to state and city to city, instead of having to find a new broadcast every few hundred miles.

Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT) formed as a result of this budding industry.(Whalen) COMSAT partnered with Hughes Aircraft Company which was an geosynchronous satellite (24 hour orbit) called "Early Bird" which had started glabal satellite communications. COMSAT intitally capitalized 200 million dollars which opened their eyes to how much money they could truly make if they open the market up. (Whalen)









 Orbital Rotations




Low earth orbit=blue

Nicknamed a LEO satellite

(google image search) 






Geostationary orbit (Google Image search) The more common of the two orbits, used for commercial use of a designated area.



Military use



 Milstar satellite (King, and Riccio) Military Satellite



Communication satellites are used by the U.S military for Ground control and command, satellites assure global channel of communication even where communcation resources are not present. The military can take advantage of their satellites even by blocking others satellites from other countries. It is theorized that in order to defeat the United States in a war, you would have to somehow disconnect them from their satellites (known as an EMP). Even with that being done the U.S has back up plans where they would be able to handle the situation even though it would be shocking at first.




Whalen, David. "NASA history division." NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 24 Apr 2011.  (Whalen)



King, Mak, and Michael Riccio. "Military Satellite communications: then and now." Aerospace. Aerospace, 16/07/2010. Web. 24 Apr 2011.   (King, and Riccio)



"Compare satellite TV providers." The satellite tv guide., 2010. Web. 27 Apr 2011.  ("satellite tv guide")