You are on page 1of 127

HTEL 103


History of the evolution of satellites began in October 1945 when a famous science fiction writer Arthur Clark proposed the feasibility of establishing a communication satellite in a geostationary orbit. In his article he discussed how a geostationary orbit satellite would look static to an observer on Earth within the satellites coverage, thus providing an uninterrupted communication service across the globe. This marked the beginning of the satellite era.

The execution of the mission began with the advent of hot air balloons and sounding rockets. The 1945 -1955 period was dominated by launches of experimental rockets. A-4 (V-2) rockets used extensively during the 2-nd War for delivering explosive warheads. The 1-st of these A-4 rockets to carry scientific instruments to the upper atmosphere was launched in May 1946. It carried an instrument to record cosmic ray flux from an altitude of 112 km. The launch was followed by several more during the same year. The last V-2A rocket (by Soviet Union) in 1949 carried a payload of 860 kg and attained a height of 212 km.

Space era started in 4 October 1957 with the launching of the 1-st artificial satellite Sputnik-1 by Soviet Union from Baikonur Cosmodrome. It orbited Earth once every 96 minutes for 92 days. Sputnik-2 was launched on 3 November 1957 and carried a dog called Laika the first living creature to orbit Earth. Sputnik-3 launched in 15 May 1958. The 1-st satellite Telstar-1 was launched on 10 July 1962 by AT &T the American telecommunications giant. In 1965, the 1-st commercial geostationary satellite INTELSAT 1 (Early Bird) and the 1-st Soviet communication satellite of the MOLNYA series was launched. Since then, countless satellites have been placed into earth orbit. These are: communication satellites, weather forecasting satellites, Earth observation satellites, navigational satellites and military satellites.

What is a satellite?
A satellite in general is any natural or artificial body moving around a celestial body such as planets and stars. In this case we are referring only to artificial satellites orbiting the planet Earth. These satellites are put into the desired orbit and have payloads depending upon the intended application. A satellite while in the orbit performs its designated role throughout its lifetime.

Satellite system
The satellite system is composed of the following: The space segment contains one or several active and spare satellites organised in a constellation. The control segment consists of all ground facilities for the control and monitoring of the satellites, also TTC ( tracking, telemetry and command) stations and for the management of the traffic and the associated resources onboard the satellite. The ground segment consists of all the traffic earth stations. Depending on the type of service considered , these stations can be of different size. Figure 1.1 gives an overview of a satellite communication system and illustrates its interfacing with terrestrial entities. Table 1.1 gives examples of traffic Earth stations.

Table 1.1 services from different types of traffic earth station

Type of service Point-to-point Broadcast/multicast Collect Mobile Type of earth station Gateway, hub VSAT Feeder station VSAT VSAT Hub Handset, portable, mobile Gateway Typical size (m) 2-10 1-2 1-5 0,5-1,0 0,1-1,0 2-10 0,1-0,8 2-10

Earth stations
They are classified as: User stations, such as handsets, portables, mobile stations and VSATs (very small aperture terminals), which allow customer a direct access to the space segment. Interface stations (gateways),which interconnect the space segment to a terrestrial network. Service stations such as hub/feeder stations which collect/distribute information from/to user stations via the space segment [see figure 1.1].

Communications between users are set up through user terminals which consist of equipment such as telephone sets, fax machines and computers that are connected to the terrestrial network or to the user stations, or are part of the user station. The path from a source user terminal to a destination user terminal is a simplex connection. There are two basic schemes: single connection per carrier (SCPC), where the modulated carrier supports one connection only, and multiple connections per carrier (MCPC), where the modulated carrier supports several time or frequency multiplexed connections. Interactivity between two users requires a duplex connections.

A connection between a service provider and user goes through a hub or feeder station. A connection from a gateway, hub or feeder station to a user terminal is called a forward connection. The reverse connection is the return connection. Both connections entail an uplink and a downlink, and possibly one or more inter satellite links.

A link between a transmitting and a receiving terminal consists of a radio or optical modulated carrier. The performance of the transmitting equipment is measured by its effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP), which is the power fed to the antenna multiplied by the gain of the antenna in the considered direction. The performance of the receiving equipment is measured by G/T, the ratio of the antenna receive gain, G, in the considered direction and the system noise temperature, T. G/T is called the receivers figure of merit.

The types of link shown in figure 1.1 are: The uplinks from the earth stations to the satellites The downlinks from the satellite to the earth stations The inter satellite links, between the satellites. Uplinks and downlinks consist of radio frequency modulated carriers, while inter satellite links can be either radio frequency or optical. Carriers are modulated by baseband signals conveying information for communications purposes.

The link performance can be measured by the ratio of the received carrier power, C, to the noise power spectral density, N [C/N]. Another important parameter for the design of a link is the bandwidth, B, occupied by the carrier. This bandwidth depends on the information data rate, the channel coding rate, and the type of modulation used to modulate the carrier.

The space segment

The satellite consists of the payload and the platform. The payload consists of the receiving and transmitting antennas and all the electronic equipment which supports the transmission of the carriers. They are two types payload and they are shown in figure 1.2.

Transparent payload
In a transparent payload carriers are power amplified and frequency down converted. Power gain is the order of 100-130 dB. Frequency conversion is required to increase the isolation between the receiving input and the transmitting output. The overall bandwidth is split into several sub bands. The carriers in each sub band amplified by a dedicated power amplifier. The amplifying chain associated with each sub band is called a satellite channel or transponder. The bandwidth splitting is achieved by the set of filters called the input multiplexer (IMUX). Power amplified carriers are recombined in the output multiplexer (OMUX).

The transparent payload belongs to a single beam satellite where each transmit and receive antenna generates one beam only. One could also consider multiple beam antennas. The payload would then have as many inputs/outputs as upbeams/downbeams. Routing of carriers from one upbeam to a given downbeam implies either routing through different satellite channels, transponder hopping, depending on the selected uplink or on-board switching with transparent on board processing.

Regenerative payload
In a multiple beam regenerative payload the uplink carriers are demodulated. The availability of the baseband signals allows on-board processing and routing of information from upbeam to a downbeam through on-board switching at baseband. The frequency conversion is achieved by modulating on-board generated carriers at downlink frequency. The modulated carriers are then power amplified and delivered to the destination downbeam.

Figure 1.3 illustrates a multiple beam satellite antenna and its associated coverage areas. Each beam defines a beam coverage area (footprint) on the earth surface. The aggregate beam coverage areas define the multibeam antenna coverage area. A given satellite may have several multiple beam antennas, and their combined coverage defines the satellite coverage area.

Figure 1.4 shows the concept of instantaneous system coverage and long term coverage. The instantaneous system coverage consists of the aggregation at a given time of the coverage areas of the individual satellites participating in the constellation. The long term coverage is the area on the earth scanned over time by the antennas of the satellites in the constellation.

The coverage area should encompass the service zone, which corresponds to the geographical region where the stations are installed. For realtime services, the instantaneous system coverage should at any time have a footprint covering the service zone, while for non-real time services, it should have long term coverage of the service zone. The platform consists of all the subsystems which permit the payload to operate. Table 1.2 lists these subsystems.

Table 1.2 Platform subsystem

Subsystem Attitude and orbit control (AOCS) Propulsion Electric power supply Telemetry, tracking and command (TTC) Thermal control Structure Principal functions Attitude stabilisation Orbit determination Provision of velocity increments Exchange of housekeeping information Temperature maintenance Equipment support Characteristics Accuracy Specific impulse, mass of propellant Number of channels, security of communications Dissipation capability Rigidity, lightness

Provision of electric energy Power, voltage stability

To ensure a service with a specified availability, a satellite communication system must make use of several satellites. A satellite can cease to be available due to a failure or because it has reached the end of its lifetime. Reliability is a measure of the probability of a breakdown and depends on the reliability of the equipment The lifetime is conditioned by the ability to maintain the satellite on station in the nominal attitude, and depends on the quantity of fuel available for the propulsion system and attitude and orbit control. In a system, provision is generally made for an operational satellite, a backup satellite in orbit and a backup satellite on the ground. The reliability of the system will involve not only the reliability of each satellites but also the reliability of launching.

The ground segment

Consists of all the earth stations. These are often connected to the end-users terminal by a terrestrial network or, in the case of small stations (VSAT) directly connected to the end users terminal. Stations are distinguished by their size which varies according to the volume of traffic to be carried on the satellite link and the type of traffic( telephone, television, data). The largest are equipped with antennas of 30 m diameter ( INTELSAT). The smallest have 0,6 m antennas or even smaller (0,1m) antennas. Some stations both transmit and receive. Others are receive-only (RCVO) stations. Figure 1.5 shows the typical architecture of an earth station for both transmission and reception.


The orbit is the trajectory followed by the satellite. The trajectory is within a plane and shaped as an ellipse with a maximum extension at the apogee and a minimum at the perigee. The satellite moves more slowly in its trajectory as the distance from the earth increases. The most favourable orbits are as follows: Elliptical orbits inclined at an angle of 64 degree with respect to the equatorial plane. It enables the satellite to cover regions of high latitude for a large fraction of the orbital period as it passes to the apogee. This type of orbit has been adopted by MOLNYA satellites with period of 12 hours.

Figure 1.6 shows the geometry of the orbit. The satellite remains above the regions located under the apogee for a time interval of 8 hours. Continuous coverage can be ensured with 3 phased satellites on different orbits. Circular low earth orbits (LEO). The altitude of the satellite is constant and equal to several hundreds of km. The period is 1,5 hour. With near 90 degree inclination this orbit guarantees a world wide long term coverage as a result of the combined motion of the satellite and earth rotation , as shown in Figure 1.7.

This type of orbit is chosen for observation satellites (SPOT, GLOBALSTAR, ECCO). Circular medium earth orbits (MEO), also named intermediate circular orbits (ICO). Their altitude 10000 km and an inclination 50 degree. The period is 6 hours. With constellations of 10-15 satellites, a continuous coverage of the world is allowing worldwide real-time communications (IMMARSAT). Circular orbits with 0 inclination (equatorial orbits). The most popular is the geostationary satellite orbit. The period is equal to the rotation of the earth. The satellite thus appears as a point fixed in the sky and ensures continuous operation as a radio relay in real time for the area of visibility of the satellite ( 43% of the earths surface). Hybrid systems include combinations of circular and elliptical orbits (ELLIPSO).

The choice of orbit depends on the nature of the mission, the acceptable interference and the performance of the launchers: The extent and latitude of the area to be covered. The elevation angle. Transmission duration and delay. Interference The performance of launchers. The geostationary satellite is the most popular. At the present time there are around 600 geostationary satellites in operation within the 360 degree of the whole orbital arc. QUESTION: how many geostationary satellites are in operation today?

Orbits and related issues

In order to understand the satellites motion around the earth there is a need of discussing the following aspects. Keplerian orbits are named after Kepler who established, in 17 century, that the trajectories of planets around the sun were ellipses and not combinations of circular movements as had been thought since the time of Pythagoras. Keplerian movement is the relative movement of two point bodies under the sole influence of their Newtonian attractions.

Keplers laws
The planets move in a plane; the orbits described are ellipses with the sun at one focus (1602). The vector from the sun to the planet sweeps equal areas in equal times (1605). The ratio of the square of the period T of revolution of a planet around the sun to the cube of the semi-major axis a of the ellipse is the same for all planets (1618).

Newtons law
Newton extended the work of Kepler and, in 1667, discovered the universal law of gravitation. This law states: Two bodies of mass m and M attract each other with a force which is proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance r between them: F = GM m/r where G= 6,672 x 10 m kg s is the universal gravitation constant, M = 5,974 x 10 kg mass of the earth. GM = = 3,986 x 10 m/s.

From the universal of gravitation and using the work of Galileo, Newton proved Keplers laws and identified the assumptions ( the problem of two spherical and homogeneous bodies). He also modified these laws by introducing the concept of orbit perturbations to take account of actual movements.

Relative movement of two point bodies

The movement of satellites around the earth observes Keplers laws to a 1-st approximation. The proof results from Newtons law and the following assumptions: The mass m of the satellite is small with respect to the mass M of the earth which is assumed to be spherical and homogeneous. Movement occurs in free space; the only bodies present are the satellite and the earth. The actual movement must take account of the fact that the earth is neither spherical nor homogeneous, the attraction of the sun and moon and other perturbing forces.

Keplers laws treat the relative movement of two bodies by applying Newtons law. It is convenient to consider the body of greater mass to be fixed, with the other moving around it ( as the force of attraction is the same for the two bodies, the resulting acceleration is much greater for the body of low mass than for the other).

Perturbations of the orbit

Movement of the satellite in its orbit is determined by the forces acting on the centre of mass. With the Keplerian hypotheses , there is only the attraction of a central, spherical and homogeneous body which defines a conservative field of forces. Perturbations of the orbit are the result of various forces which are exerted on the satellite other than the force of attraction of the central, spherical and homogenous body. These forces consist of: The contribution of the non-spherical components of terrestrial attraction. The attraction of the sun and moon. Solar radiation pressure. Aerodynamic drag. Motor thrust.


Radio regulations are necessary to ensure an efficient and economical use of the radio-spectrum by terrestrial and satellite communications systems. While so doing, the sovereign right of each state to regulate its telecommunications must be preserved. It is the role of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to promote, coordinate and harmonise the efforts of its members. ITU, a United Nations organ, operates under the convention adopted by its member administrations . The ITU publishers the Radio Regulations (RR), which are reviewed by the delegates from ITU member administrations at periodic World/Regional Radio Conferences (WRC/RRC).

From 1947 to 1993 the technical and operational matters were administered by two committees: the CCIR (Comit Consultatif International des Radiocommunications) and the CCITT (Comit Consultatif International Tlgraphique et Tlphonique). The International Frequency Registration Board (IFRB) was responsible for the examination of frequency-use documentation submitted to the ITU by its member administrations, in compliance with the Radio Regulations, and for maintaining the Master International Frequency Register (MIFR).

Since 1994 the ITU has been reorganised into three sectors: The Radiocommunications Sector (ITU-R) deals with all regulatory and technical matters that were previously handled respectively by the IFRB and CCIR. The Telecommunications Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) continues the work of the CCITT, and those studies by the CCIR dealing with the interconnection of radiocommunications systems with public networks. The Development Sector (ITU-D) acts as a forum and an advisory structure for the harmonious development of communications in the world.

The Radio-communications Regulations refer to the following space radio-communications services, defined as transmission and/or reception of radio waves for specific telecommunications applications. Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS) Earth Exploration Satellite Service (EES) Space Research Service (SRS) Space Operation Service (SOS) Radio-determination Satellite Service (RSS) Inter-Satellite Service (ISS) Amateur Satellite Service (ASS)

Frequency bands are allocated to the above radiocommunications services to allow compatible use. The allocated can be either exclusive for a given service, or shared among several services. Allocations refer to the following division of the world into three regions: Region 1: Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the former USSR. Region 2: the Americas Region 3: Asia and Oceania, except the Middle East and the former USSR . Table 3.1 shows the frequency allocations.

Table 3.1 Frequency allocations

Radiocommunications service Frequency bands for uplink/downlink (GHz) 6/4 8/7 14/12-11 30/20 Used terminology (band) C band X band Ku band Ka band

Fixed satellite service (FCC)

50/40 Mobile satellite service (MSS)

Broadcasting satellite service (BSS)

V band L band
Ka band S band Ku band S band

30/20 2/2,2 12 2,6/2,5


An Earth station is a terrestrial terminal station mainly located on the Earths surface. It could be even airborne or maritime. Those located on the Earths surface could be fixed or mobile. Earth stations are generally categorised on the basis of type of services or functions provided by them though they may sometimes be classified according to the size of the dish antenna. Based on the type of service provided they are classified into the following: Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) Earth Stations Broadcast Satellite Services (BSS) Earth Stations Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) Earth Stations

Earth stations are also categorised as: Single function stations Gateway stations Teleports The general organisation of an earth station is shown in figure 4.1. It consists of an antenna subsystem, with an associated tracking system, a transmitting section and a receiving section. It also includes equipment to interface with the terrestrial network together with various monitoring and electricity supply installations.

The antenna is generally common to transmission and reception for reasons of cost and bulk. Separation of transmission and reception is achieved by means of a duplexer. Antennas are often capable of transmitting and receiving on orthogonal polarisations ( circular or linear) in order to permit re-use of frequencies.

The tracking system keeps the antenna pointing in the direction of the satellite in spite of the relative movement of the satellite and the station. Even in the case of a geostationary satellite, orbital perturbations cause apparent displacements of the satellite which are, however, limited to the station-keeping box. Furthermore the station can be installed on a mobile vehicle whose location and direction vary with time.

The performance required of the tracking system varies in accordance with the characteristics of the antenna beam and the satellite orbit. For small antennas, the tracking system can be eliminated (fixed mounting) and this enables reduced cost. The size and the complexity of stations depend on the service to be provided and the effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) and the figure of merit of the earth station (G/T) of the satellite. The simplest stations permit reception only and are equipped with a parabolic antenna which may have a diameter of less than 1m. The largest are 1-st built Intelsat Standard A stations with antennas of 32 m diameter.

The characteristics which determine the radio-frequency performance of earth stations occur in the link budget expressions for the uplink and the downlink budget. In the early years, international satellite communications services were provided by international organisations. These organisations (now privatised) have defined various standards for earth stations operating in connection with the satellites the operate. These standards specify numerous parameters, e.g. the figure of merit G/T, for different services and applications.

Satellite system standards

The characteristics of earth stations used in the INTELSAT network grouped into INTELSAT Earth Station Standards (IESS) modules (according to IESS -101, Rev 61). The EUTELSAT Earth Stations Standards (EESS) are published by EUTELSAT to provide users with a common source of reference for performance characteristics required from earth stations and associated equipment for access to the EUTELSAT space segment and the establishment of communication links. IMMARSAT for mobile maritime telecommunication services also has its own standards.

The antenna subsystem

The characteristics required for an earth station antenna are as follows: High directivity, in the direction of the nominal satellite position (for useful signals) Low directivity in other directions, in particular that of nearby satellites to limit interference with other systems. Antenna efficiency as high as possible for both frequency bands( uplink and downlinks) on which the antenna operates.

High isolation between orthogonal polarisations. The lowest possible antenna noise temperature. Continuous pointing in the direction of the satellite with the required accuracy. Limitation of the effect of local meteorological conditions on the overall performance.

The radio-frequency subsystem

It contains: On the receiving side , low noise amplifying equipment and equipment for routing the received carriers to the demodulating channels. On the transmitting side, equipment for coupling the transmitters carriers and power amplifiers. In each direction, frequency converters form the interface with the telecommunications subsystem which operates at intermediate frequency. To satisfy the objectives of reliability and specified availability, it is often necessary to back up the radiofrequency equipment of an earth station.

Communication subsystems
The communication subsystem on the transmission side consists of equipment for converting baseband signals to radio-frequency carriers for amplification. On the reception side, it converts the carriers at the output of the low noise amplifier to baseband signals. The baseband signal may be either analogue or digital. In the analogue case, it can be a telephone channel, a multiplex of telephone channels, a TV signal or a sound programme. In the digital case, it is usually in the form of a bit stream which corresponds to one or a multiplex of voice channels or data packets.

The functions on the receiving side are: Conversion of the carrier frequency (RF) to an intermediate frequency (IF) Filtering and equalisation of group propagation delay. Carrier demodulation. In the case of transmission using TDMA, it is necessary to re-establish a continuous digital stream from the packets of the received frame. If TDMA is used on the transmission side, it is necessary to group the bits of the baseband signal into packets which are inserted in the proper time slots provided in the frame.

The network interface subsystem

This is the interface between baseband signals produced by, or destined for, the communication common equipment and baseband signals in the terrestrial network format. The main functions are multiplexing (demultiplexing) of telephone channels, which may include digital speech interpolation (DSI) and channel multiplication (DCME), suppression (or cancellation) of echoes and various functions particular to single channel transmission (SCPC).

Monitoring and control; Auxillary equipment

Its purpose is monitoring of correct operation and control of the earth station. The monitoring, alarm and control equipment has the following purposes: To provide operators with the necessary information for monitoring and controlling the station and managing the traffic. To initiate alarms in case of incorrect operation or an incident affecting the main station equipment or the link performance and permit identification of the equipment which is involved. To permit the control of the station equipment.

Monitoring and control functions can be provided locally, in a centralised manner, or under the control of a computer. With centralised or computer-aided management, it is possible to have a station without permanent staff. Monitoring and control information can be routed to a distant common network centre by means of dedicated terrestrial lines or service channels on the satellite links.

Developed new systems opened the possibility of telecommunication services in areas as business communication, rural telecommunication, video data distribution, Internet access, interactive transfers and communication with mobiles. Many of these systems use small earth stations which are installed on the user premises and provide direct telephone links (rural communication), data communications with very small aperture terminal (VSAT) on private networks , Internet access, and video reception.


The payload can be considered as the brain of the satellite that performs its intended function. The basic payload in the case of a communication satellite is a transponder, which acts as a receiver/amplifier/transponder. A transponder can be considered to be a microwave relay channel that also performs the function of translation. A transponder is a combination of elements like sensitive high gain antennas for transmit-receive functions, a subsystem of repeaters, filters, frequency shifters, low noise amplifiers (LNAs), frequency mixers and power amplifiers

The payload consists of two parts with well-defined interfaces- the repeater and the antennas. The repeater is the electronic equipment which performs a range of functions on the carriers from the receiving antenna before delivering them to the transmitting antenna. The repeater consists of several channels( transponders) which are individually dedicated to sub-bands within the overall payload frequency band. The architecture differs from single-beam transparent repeater, regenerative repeater and multi-beam payload.

Functions of the payload

To capture the carriers transmitted, in a given frequency band and with a given polarisation, by the earth stations of the network on the surface of the earth and are seen from the satellite within an angle which determines the angular width of the satellite antenna beam. To capture as little interference as possible. To amplify the received carriers while limiting noise and distortion as much as possible. To change the frequency of the carriers received on the uplinks to that on the downlinks . To provide the power required in a given frequency band at the interface with the transmitting antenna. To radiate the carriers in a given frequency band and with a given polarisation to a given region on the surface of the earth.

Characteristic parameters
The transmitting and receiving frequency bands and polarisations for the various repeater channels. The transmit and receive coverages. The effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) or the flux density achieved in a given region. The power flux density required at the satellite receiving antenna in order to produce the performance specified at the repeater channel output. The figure of merit (G/T) of the receiving system in a given region. The reliability after N years for a specified number of channels in working order.

Regenerative repeater
The specific equipment: demodulating and remodulating equipment and the baseband signal processing equipment. The signals carried by a regenerative transponder are digital. The specific equipment is designed to process digital signals. Demodulation can be either coherent or differential according to the digital modulation anticipated for the uplink.

Multibeam antenna payload

It features several antenna beams which provide coverage of different service zones. As received on board the satellite, the carriers appear at the outputs of one or more receiving antennas. The carriers at the repeater must be fed to the various transmitting antennas. Two basic configurations are possible: Each receiving transmitting beam combination constitutes an independent network The stations within different coverage regions belong to a unique network and station-to-station connections must be established between any pair of stations situated in different service zones.

Flexible payloads
They are reconfigurable in coverage, frequency plan and routing, an efficient answer the following needs: Universal payload for in-orbit replacement of any satellite with continuity of service Reconfigurable payload to follow market evolution Standard payload for low cost and fast.


The organisation of a communications satellite platform is determined by the following: The requirements of the communications payload. The nature and effects of the space environment The performance of launchers and the constraints which they impose. The communications mission conditions the design of the payload. The platform is concerned this design results in requirements such as the electrical power to be provided, the payload mass that can be accommodated, the antenna pointing accuracy, the thermal power to be extracted, the space required for equipment mounting, the number of telemetry, tracking and command (TTC) channels and so on.

The nature and effects of the space environment affect orbit control, subsystem organisation and the choice of material and components. A list of platform subsystems were given in Table 1.2 of Lecture 1. Three common characteristics are not indicated but are essential and should be emphasised: Minimum mass Minimum consumption High reliability.

Each subsystem is specified and designed for the particular mission to be fulfilled, taking account of these three criteria, the technology used and the data characteristics of other subsystems. The performance and specification of a particular subsystem depend on the presence of other subsystems and this influences the interfaces between subsystems.

Attitude control
The attitude of the satellite is represented with respect to the yaw, roll and pitch axes of a local coordinate system (Fig 6.1). This coordinate system is centred on the centre of mass of the satellite. The yaw axis points in the direction of the centre of the earth. The role axis is in plane of the orbit, perpendicular to the first and oriented in the direction of the velocity. The pitch axis is perpendicular to the other two and orientated in such a way that the coordinate system is regular. In the nominal attitude configuration, the axes of the satellite-fixed coordinate system are, in principle, aligned with the axes of the local coordinate system.

Figure 6.1

The attitude of the satellite is represented by the angles of rotation about the various axes between the local coordinate system and the satellite-fixed coordinate system. Maintaining attitude is fundamental for the satellite to fulfil its function. The role of attitude control usually consists of maintaining the mechanical axes in alignment with a local coordinate system to an accuracy defined by the amplitude of rotation about each of the axes.

Maintaining attitude requires two functions: A steering function causes the part of the satellite which must be oriented toward the earth to turn about the pitch in order to compensate for the apparent movement of the earth with respect to the satellite. A stabilisation function compensates for the effects of attitude-disturbing torques. The disturbing torques are created by gravitational forces, solar radiation pressure and interaction between current loops and the terrestrial magnetic field.

Attitude sensors
Sun sensors Earth sensors Star sensors Inertial units Radio-frequency sensors Laser detectors

The propulsion subsystem

Its role is mainly to generate forces which act on the centre of mass of the satellite. These forces modify the satellite orbit, either to ensure injection into a predetermined orbit or to control drift of the nominal orbit. It also serves to produce torques to assist the attitude control system. The forces generated by the propulsion units are reaction forces resulting from the expulsion of material.

Types of thrusters
Low power thrusters, which are used for attitude and orbit control. Medium and high power thrusters, which are used for orbit changes during the launch phase. Depending on the type of launcher used, these thrusters form the apogee kick motor (AKM) and the perigee kick motor (PKM).

The characteristics of thrusters

Low thrust levels A large number of operating cycles of limited duration A cumulative operating time of several hundreds or thousand of hours. Lifetime of greater than 15 years.

Chemical propulsion
The principle of chemical propulsion consists of generating gases at high temperature by chemical combustion of liquid or solid propellants. These gases are accelerated by the nozzle. Solid propellant motors are reserved for generating velocity increments for initial injection into orbit. These motors can be used once only and develop large thrusts. The specific impulse obtained is of the order of 295 s.

Electric propulsion
It involves the use of an electrostatic or electromagnetic field to accelerate and eject ionised material. Electric propulsion is an advanced technology in comparison with chemical propulsion. It is characterised by low thrusts with a high specific impulse (1000 to 10 000s). Various electric propulsions have been developed: electrothermal, plasma and ionic.

The electric power supply

This subsystem consists of: A primary source of energy which converts energy available in another form into electrical energy ( for civil applications, it consists of a solar generator) A secondary source of energy (battery) which is substituted for the primary energy source when this cannot fulfil its function, for example in an eclipse period Conditioning ( regulation and distribution) and protection circuits.


Since the launch of Sputnik-1 over 8000 satellites have been launched for different applications. Based on the intended applications, the satellites broadly classified as communication, navigation, weather forecasting, earth observation, scientific and military satellites.

Communication satellites
The application areas of communication satellites mainly include TV broadcasting, international telephony and data communication services. Communication satellites act as repeater stations that provide either point-to-point, point-to-multipoint or multipoint interactive services. Satellite TV refers to the use of satellites for relaying TV programmes from a point where they originate to a large geographical area. GEO satellites in point-tomultipoint configuration are employed for satellite TV. There are two types of satellite TV distribution systems: the television receive only (TVRO) and the direct broadcasting satellite (DBS) systems.

Satellite telephony
In satellite telephony, satellites provide both long distance point-to-point or trunk telephony services as well as mobile telephony services, either to complement or to bypass the terrestrial networks. Satellites also provide data communication services including data, broadcast and multimedia services such as data collection and broadcasting, image and video transfer, voice, internet, two-way computer interactions and database inquiries. Satellites in this case provide multipoint interactive connectivity, enabling the user terminals to exchange information with the central facility as well as other user terminals.

Communication satellites can be GEO satellites or a constellation of LEO, MEO or HEO (highly elliptical orbit) satellites. Geostationary satellites used in Intelsat, Immarsat, Telstar, Asiasat, Arabsat, Galaxy, GE, Superbird, Astra, Eutelsat, Palapa and other satellite systems. Non-geostationary satellite communication systems are emerging to provide mobile communication services, messaging, video, fax and data communication. Examples are: IRIDIUM, Orbcomm, Globalstar and ICO systems.

Figure 7.1 shows a variety of satellite point-to-point telephone networks having either single user or shared multi user Earth stations. Various steps in making a call through a satellite network are outlined below. This is just a conceptual explanation, the actual procedure is much more complicated. 1. The user lifts the receiver. This sends a request to the local Earth station, which in turn sends a service request to the master station. 2. If the master station is able to provide the satellite capacity, it sends a confirmation signal to the local Earth station, resulting in a dial tone in the phone. 3. The user dials the destination number, which is transferred to the control station, which determines the destination Earth station and signals in that a connection needs to be established.

Figure 7.1
Satellite point-to-point telephone networks.

4. The destination Earth station then signals the called party of the incoming call by ringing. 5. The satellite capacity is allocated to the connection and the telephone link is established once the called party lifts the handset . 6. Once the conversation is over, the calling party hangs up the receiver, indicating to the local Earth station to terminate the call. In the case of a telephony network using satellite constellation, the call may involve connection through multiple satellites and cross-links.

Domestic fixed satellite service (DFSS)

Domestic C-band 4/6 GHz satellites fall into three categories based on the markets they serve. Cable satellites distribute TV programming to cable head ends to homes equipped with backyard Television Receive Only (TVRO) dishes Broadcast satellites distribute network programming to affiliates and syndicated programming to affiliates and independent stations. The 3-rd category is used for point-to-point transmission of video and data signals. Most new domestic satellites use the higher frequency Ku band for VSAT networks, broadcast TV, and digital audio entertainment

Mobile satellite service (MSS)

This is a service for mobile subscribers using cell handsets communicating with LEO satellites. 1-st mobile service experiment was 1977 using NASAs satellite ATS-6. In 1982 1-st civilian mobile satellite Inmarsat was launched. Since then there has been many other launches. The new 3-rd generation mobile satellite services are called Global Mobile Personal Communication Services (GMPCS). GMPCS is a personal communication system providing transnational, regional or global two-way voice, fax, messaging, data and broadband multimedia services from a constellation of satellites accessible with small and easily transportable terminals. All these systems operate in the L Ku and S bands.

Radiodetermination satellite services

RDSS is a term used in the radio regulations to describe a service that uses satellites for navigation purposes. The FCC has allocated radio spectrum in the L and S bands for the RDSS. The U.S. and Russia each operate satellite services that provide position location information. The U.S. Department of Defence (DOD) operates and maintains the Global Positioning System (GPS). Russia operates Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). Both systems operate on a similar principle of measuring the time difference of arrival of radio transmissions from several satellites with precisely known orbital element and accurate clocks.

The GPS constellation of 24 satellites in 8 planes is in figure 7.2 . This provides a minimum of 6 satellites in view at all times, anywhere on the Earth. Table 7.1 highlights the features of the two systems.

Fig 7.2

Table 7.1

Position location determination using satellites

Determining the location of any GPS receiver on the earth requires a solution in three dimensions: latitude, longitude, altitude. A minimum of 4 satellites is required to determine these dimensions. GPS also provides a solution for velocity information. Referring to figure 7.3, if the distance (x) is known, we can only determine that the receiver is located anywhere on the sphere circumscribed around satellite A. every point on sphere A is the same distance from the satellite.

If we can measure the distance (y) to the second satellite B, the location of the receiver can be narrowed to an area of the universe anywhere on the circumference (a) formed by the intersection of spheres A and B. The 3-rd satellite C, is needed to reduce the uncertainty to two points on circumference (a). This is sufficient for determining the receiver location because one of the points lies on the Earths surface and the other point lies in outer space or deep in the Earth.

The computers used in the GPS receiver have various methods for distinguishing the correct points from the false points. This three-satellite solution would be sufficient if we had perfect synchronization of time between the receiver and the satellite. To understand the importance of time, it is necessary to examine how the distances (range) to satellites A,B, and C can be measured. GPS satellites use CDMA modulation using separate PN codes for each satellite in the constellation. The same PN codes can also be generated in the GPS receiver.

Satellite TV
About 75% of the satellite market for communication services. Examples: GE and Galaxy (US) Astra and Hot Bird (Europe) INSAT (India) JCSAT and Superbird (Japan). The 5 Hot Bird satellites provide 900 TV channels and 560 Radio stations to 24 mln users in Europe. Other means of TV broadcasting include terrestrial TV broadcasting and cable TV services.

Satellites can provide TV transmission services either directly to the user or in conjunction with the cable and terrestrial broadcasting networks. Satellite TV employs GEO satellites. Digital Direct Broadcasting Satellite (DBS) TV offers users with a lot of services like High Definition TV (HDTV), which is a high resolution digital TV service, interactive programme watching in which the user can interact with the programme and create his own programme, do interactive shopping, personal video recording.

Other services offered include video-ondemand, in which the viewer can view at any moment the programme of his choice, near video-on-demand, in which the viewer can view the programme of his choice at a latter scheduled time, pay TV in which the viewer charged according to the programmes he views. Another important service is a high speed Internet connection through the satellite TV link.

Examples: DirectTV, Echostar, PrimeStar (USA) TataSky, DishTV (India) Star Choice (Canada) They use only 8 orbital slots which are allocated.

Satellite radio
It provides high fidelity audio broadcast services to the broadcast radio stations. Sound quality is excellent due to a wide bandwidth of 5-15 kHz and low noise. Satellite radio uses GEO satellites. The satellite can also transmit the signal directly to the users radio sets. Examples: Sirus and XM Radio (USA).

Satellite data communication

Data communication via satellites refers to the use of satellites as a communication channel to transmit data between two computers or date processing facilities located at different places. Data communication is provided by GEO satellites or by constellation of LEO, MEO or HEO satellites. Some of these satellites are part of the GMPCS (global mobile personal communication systems).

GEO satellites provide broadcast, multicast and point-to-point unidirectional or biodirectional data services through special networks called VSAT networks. Satellites are broadly classified as: international, regional and domestic systems. For more information see:

International satellite systems

Iridium Globalstar Intelsat Inmarsat Intelsat Limited is the worlds largest commercial satellite communications service provider. Originally, it was formed as the International Telecommunication Satellite Organisation (INTELSAT) in 1964 to own and manage a constellation of GEO satellites that could provide international communication services.

Intelsat was an inter-govermental consortium initially having 11 members. In 2001, it became a private company and acquired PamAmSat in 2006. Today, it is the worlds largest provider of fixed satellite services, operating a fleet of more than 50 satellites. Intelsat VIII can handle more than 120 000 telephone calls or 500 TV channels. In February 2007, Intelsat changed the names of 16 of its satellites formerly known under the Intelsat Americas and PamAmSat series to Galaxy and Intelsat series respectively.

These satellites basically serve four regions: Atlantic Ocean Region (AOR)- covering North America, Central America, South America, India, Africa and western portions of Europe. Indian Ocean Region (IOR)- covering Eastern Europe, Africa, India, South East Asia, Japan and Western Australia Asia Pacific Region (AFR)- covering Eastern Europe, the former USSR and the regions from India to Japan and Australia. Pacific Ocean Region (POR)- covering Southeast Asia to Australia, the Pacific and western regions of America and Canada. These coverage regions overlap with each other providing truly global services almost to every country.

INMARSAT is an international organisation, currently having 85 member countries that control satellite systems in order to provide global mobile communication services. It was established in 1979 to serve the maritime industry by providing satellite communication services for ship management and safety applications. Now its applications expanded to providing land, mobile, aeronautical communication services.

Currently, more than125000 Inmarsat mobile terminals are in use. It began its operation in 1982 by leasing capacity from the MARISAT, MARECS and INTELSAT satellites. Figure 7.2 shows the network using Inmarsat satellites.

Figure 7.2
Communication network using Inmarsat satellites

Iridium satellites
It is global mobile communication system designed to offer voice communication services to pocketsized telephones and data, fax and paging services to portable terminals, independent of the users location in the world and of the availability of traditional telecommunications networks. Iridium is expected to provide a cellular-like service in areas where a terrestrial cellular service is unavailable or where the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is not well developed.

The Iridium network can support 172 000 simultaneous users, providing each of them with 2,4 kbps fully duplex channels. The space segment of the system comprises 66 active satellites and 14 spare back-up satellites revolving around Earth, in 6 LEO orbital planes having 11 satellites each, at an altitude of 780 km. The system was originally supposed to have 77 active satellites. Iridium element has an atomic number of 77. Each satellite is cross-linked with 4 other satellites.

Figure 7.3 shows a typical communication setup of the Iridium satellite constellation. Each user of mobile service using single subscription number is associated with a gateway called the home gateway, which maintains a record of its profile and location and looks after its services. Each user also has links with 2 satellites at a time.

Globalstar satellites
They belong to USA and provides global voice, data, fax and messaging service through a constellation of 48 satellites. They orbit at an altitude of 1410km and are inclined at an angle of 52 degree.

Regional satellites
EUTELSAT was formed 1977 to commission the design and construction of satellites and to manage the operation of regional satellite communication services in Europe. Currently 24 satellites are operational on the GEO orbit, serving more than 150 countries and up to 90% of the worlds population. 20 satellites are fully operated by EUTELSAT, 4 are leased from Telecom -2D, Telstar-12, Ekspress-A3 and Ekspress-AM22.

Atlantic Bird satellites provide video, IP and data communication services to Europe, the Middle East and North African markets. They have 4 satellites. Eutelsat series of satellites are Eutelsats communication satellites providing communication services to the European subcontinent. Eurobird satellites provide broadcasting and telecommunication services primarily to the Western and Central European region.

Hot Bird satellites provide TV services to Europe , North Africa and large parts of the Middle East. It also provides radio and multimedia services over a wide coverage area. Currently 3 satellites are operational. SESAT ( Siberia-Europe) satellites provide a wide range of telecommunication services over a very large geographical coverage area that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to Eastern Russia, including a large part of Siberia.

National satellites
USA satellites: Galaxy, Satcom, EchoStar, Telestar Brazil: Brasilsat India: INSAT Australia:Optus China: Sinosat

Future of Satcoms
The future is towards launching more satellite constellations in low altitude orbits, designing complex satellite platforms with more on-board power, increased support to personal communication services users, use of higher frequency bands and shift from RF spectrum to light quantum spectrum. Key technology areas are: development of largescale multi-beam antennas to allow intensive reuse of frequencies.

Key technology areas are: Development of large-scale multi-beam antennas to allow intensive reuse of frequencies, Replace VSATs with USATs, Development of signal processing algorithms to perform intelligent functions on-board the satellite including signal regeneration, Overcome the signal fading problem due to rain and allowing use of smaller antennas. Flexible cross-link communication between satellites will be developed to allow better distribution of traffic between the satellites .

Advanced concepts
Satellite-to-submarine communication: Satellites can be used to communicate with many submarines that are submerged in sea water at depths of 100m or so. See figure 7.4. Interplanetary TV link: the set-up makes use of a satellite orbiting around a planet with which the link has to be established and a satellite orbiting in geostationary orbit around the Earth. View the figure 7.5

Figure 7.4

Figure 7.5