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October 27, 2008 - SatNews Daily - 218 words
Satnews Daily Marisat F-2 article
With a FCC Filing on October 21st by Intelsat North America LLC, the long life of the MARISAT F-2 satellite is coming to an end. The filing requests a start date of October 29th, to last for 30 days, to de-orbit the MARISAT-2 satellite from its orbital slot at 33.9° W. with TT&C (Telemetry, Tracking and Control) to be performed.
This satellite, which was launched in October of 1976, has performed superbly for 32 years, but recently, the deterioration of the telecommand link caused concerns for Intelsat. The MARISAT F-2 will now be de-orbited to a perigee 200 km higher than synchronous altitude, based on the Company's propellant accounting and the satellite's recent performance during other maneuvers.
MARISAT F-2 offered global maritime communications when launched in October of 1976 and was the second member of a three satellite system all launched that year. The satellites were manufactured by Hughes Aircraft Company and became the first global maritime system. Their initial geosynchronous orbits were at 15° W, 176.° E, and 72.5° E. All were launched aboard a Delta-2914 from Cape Canaveral by NASA under their contract with Comsat General. The satellite provided the commercial shipping industry with 24 hour high quality communication channels, improving ship-to-shore control which, previously, sometimes lapsed as much as 48 hours. An outstanding performance.
COMSAT General, a subsidiary of COMSAT Corporation, announced today that it has signed an agreement to provide satellite data communications to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station located at the center of Antarctica.
The U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, SC signed the agreement, on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The contract is for one year and includes four one-year options, with the potential for service through May 2005.The communications services to be performed by COMSAT will supplement coverage provided by several other government satellites, and is expected to significantly improve the quality of communications for the scientists and staff working in the physical isolation of the South Pole.
The additional satellite data communications provided under this agreement will enable scientists to transfer, rapidly and efficiently, the large amounts of scientific data gathered each day in the year-round research performed at the South Pole. The additional satellite service is one of several electronics and communications improvements being made at the South Pole Station.
The location of the Amundsen-Scott Station at the earth's axis allows for long-term astronomical observations impossible anywhere else on the earth. Also, the unique geographic and climatic conditions - which include high altitude, extreme cold and very dry air - make the station an unparalleled platform for astronomy and astrophysics.
The research includes studies probing the early history of the universe, as well as the study of space weather, sunspots, solar winds and upper atmospheric (ozone layer) research.
The agreement is the second part of a two-phase project. The first phase began in February with the relocation by COMSAT General of the MARISAT- F2 satellite to a new geosynchronous orbit location over the Atlantic Ocean where it can support the data communications requirements of the NSF South Pole Station. This repositioning is expected to be complete by the end of August.
MARISAT F-2, launched October 14, 1976, is the last of the three dual-payload satellites designed for use by the U.S. Navy and the commercial shipping industry. It is the oldest commercial communications satellite in the world still in service. The three-satellite MARISAT system served as the initial Inmarsat space configuration.
To enable service with the South Pole over the MARISAT F-2, COMSAT will use the satellite gateway facilities located at its teleport in Clarksburg, Md. The gateway and antenna will support two-way data rates in excess of 2 Mbps for U.S.-to-South Pole communications needs.
"COMSAT was chosen because we have the technical capabilities and the expertise to support fully the unique communications needs of the Amundsen-Scott research station," said John Klingelhoeffer, vice president and general manager of COMSAT General. "Our service will be used in concert with other satellites to supplement the critical communications links to the South Pole and will provide scientists with worldwide access to scientific data, the Internet, as well as operational and technical communications with NSF facilities in the U.S."
COMSAT General is a wholly owned subsidiary of COMSAT Corporation and provides satellite-based communications services for commercial, government and international organizations. COMSAT Corporation (NYSE:CQ), headquartered in Bethesda, Md., is a leading provider of global satellite services and digital networking services, products, and technology.
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Due to the Earth's curvature, the NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole station is unable to use satellites in geostationary orbits roughly 36,000 kilometers (22,300 miles) above the equator. As a result, scientists have been unable to transfer data from experiments, operate equipment remotely or use telephones or the Internet from the station.
NSF and Comsat recently joined forces to put an aged Comsat General communications satellite to work as a link to Amundsen-Scott station. In recognition, the Society of Satellite Professionals International has given the NSF's Office of Polar Programs and Comsat General Corporation its Industry Innovator Award.
Under the leadership of Patrick D. Smith, the Antarctic Program's technology development manager, NSF and Comsat brought the MARISAT F2 satellite into service for the South Pole.
The 26-year-old satellite is in excellent condition and now gives the station six hours of daily connectivity, allowing high-quality Internet access for supporting scientific research and vital mission operations, such as telemedicine. In conjunction with a small handful of other satellites, the telecommunications window at the pole now spans half of the day.
MARISAT was launched in 1976 as an early member of the world's first global maritime satellite system. Comsat's efforts to preserve the satellite over the intervening years have allowed natural forces to tilt the satellite's orbit away from the equator and towards the poles, allowing the station to "see" it for a limited time each day. This places MARISAT in a very select and unusual family of satellites.
Karl A. Erb, who heads the U.S. Antarctic Program at NSF, said the award recognizes work that echoes the determined spirit of early Antarctic explorers to overcome geography in pursuit of scientific knowledge in remote and harsh regions.
"I commend Pat, and those on his team, for their ability to take advantage of an opportunity others might have missed," he said. "The Antarctic research community owes them a debt of thanks."
NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, which coordinates almost all U.S. scientific research on the continent and its surrounding ocean. NSF maintains three year-round stations in Antarctica. [Peter West]For more information about the non-profit SSPI's awards program, see: www.sspi.org/
Google Books: Global Mobile Satellite Communication for Maritime, Land, and Aeronautical Applications: For Maritime, Land and Aeronautical Applications
By Stojce Dimov Ilcev
The Antarctic Sun - August 29, 2008
The MacGyver solution - Polies fix satellite dish with do-it-yourself solution to re-establish important communications link