Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Terrestar-1 -- World's Largest Commercial Satellite -- Enters Orbit

Terrestar-1, the largest and most powerful commercial satellite to date, was successfully launched into geostationary orbit aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the spaceport in French Guiana.

TerreStar-1 will be located at an orbital position of 111 deg. West, offering integrated satellite and terrestrial mobile services across the United States and Canada using conventionally-sized dual mode handsets. The hybrid satellite/terrestrial architecture ensures mobile coverage in rural areas across the continent or in cases where the conventional terrestrial services become unavailable.

The satellite, which weighs a record 6,910 kg and was built at Space Systems/Loral's Palo Alto, California facility, operates in two 10-Mhz blocks of contiguous MSS spectrum in the 2 GHz band throughout the United States and Canada - with a spectrum footprint that covers a population of nearly 330 million. The satellite uniquely features an 18-meter deployable reflector and an S-band feed array with 500 spot beams.

TerreStar has worked with EB (Elektrobit) to develop an integrated satellite-terrestrial smartphone with quad-band GSM and tri-band WCDMA/HSPA capabilities.

In addition to seamless satellite/terrestrial voice handovers, the smartphone is capable of SMS, MMS, IM, Email, Push to Talk and Location Based Services (LBS). Notably, TerreStar will use an all-IP core network, with services based on IMS.

TerreStar is also working to integrate Qualcomm's EV-DO-based satellite communications technology into an Alcatel-Lucent base station. The satellite-adapted EV-DO base stations -- developed by Alcatel-Lucent -- will form key components of TerreStar's integrated satellite-terrestrial network.

"Today's launch is just the beginning of the TerreStar story," said TerreStar President, Jeff Epstein. "We believe there are tremendous opportunities ahead - in both the commercial and government sectors - and we remain focused on our promise to help solve the critical communications and business continuity challenges faced by government, emergency responders, enterprises and rural communities."