July 2, 2009
Ariane launches the biggest space satellite
Ariane has recently launched the world’s biggest commercial telecommunication satellite build for TerreStar Networks. The TerreStar-1 platform weighed seven tones at launch at it will provide voice, messaging and data connection to the North American market. The heaviest commercial satellites in the past have weighed over six tones. It is built by Space Systems/Loral, and has a huge deployable reflector antenna, measuring 18m across. TerreStar-1 is the centerpiece of an integrated space and terrestrial service for which customers will use a small smart phone-sized device, unlike the bulky ones associated with satellite phones. These phones don’t have any external antennas and will work on a terrestrial network as a normal cell phone, and switch to satellite when there is no network. The main aim of the business model is that in order to get wide adoption, you don’t need a handset that is huge.
The primary users of this service will be government, emergency responders, rural communities and commercial users. This was the third launch of the year for Ariane and they plan to launch four more flights this year. Looks like sky is not the limit for this company.