Thuraya Mobile Satellite Phone System Capable of 13,750 Simultaneous Calls.
EL SEGUNDO, CA., Oct. 10, 2000 – A turnkey satellite system that will expand mobile telephone service availability to approximately 1.8 billion people in 100 countries is scheduled for launch Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2000, it was announced today by the newly created Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc. (BSS), formerly Hughes Space and Communications Company. Boeing Satellite Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA). Thuraya-1, the first spacecraft in the Boeing GEM (for geomobile) series, will be launched from the equator on a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket in the Pacific Ocean. The 45-minute window opens 11:00 p.m. PDT (2:00 a.m. Thursday Oct. 19, EDT, 6:00 a.m. Thursday Oct. 19, GMT). This will be the first launch for Boeing Satellite Systems.
Thuraya-1, a high power geosynchronous satellite derived from the Boeing 702 (formerly the Hughes 702) model, marks the satellite manufacturer’s entry into providing an entirely space-based communications system. The $960 million contract with Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company of the United Arab Emirates was signed by Hughes in 1997. It included the manufacture of two high-power Boeing GEM (formerly Hughes GEM) satellites, launch of the first spacecraft, insurance, ground facilities, and user handsets. The second satellite is a ground spare, and there is an option for a third. The Thuraya ground segment includes terrestrial gateways plus a collocated network operations center and satellite control facility in the United Arab Emirates.
"Simply stated, we are providing one-stop shopping for a satellite-based mobile phone system," stated Tig H. Krekel, President of Boeing Satellite Systems. "Together with Hughes Network Systems, Inc., Boeing Satellite Systems is providing a turnkey mobile communications system including the spacecraft, the ground segment and user handsets to provide a range of cellular-like services over a large geographic region. The satellite employs on-board digital signal processing to create more than 200 spot beams that can be re-directed on orbit, allowing Thuraya to immediately adapt to user demands. The system can handle 13,750 simultaneous calls and allows calls to be routed handset to handset, or to a terrestrial network. The capabilities are unlike anything we’ve seen to date," he added.
The Thuraya communications payload design was one of the most powerful ever undertaken by Hughes, and uses an enhanced active phased-array antenna design in combination with a company developed state-of-the-art, digital signal processor for beam forming, channel formation and switching. The digital signal processor, five times more capable than any previous digital processor produced by the satellite manufacturer, has more computing power than 3,000 Pentium III-based computers.
Thuraya transmits and receives calls through a single 12.25-meter aperture reflector. The reflector transmits and receives signals for an L-band feed array. The reflector weighs 78 kilograms (170 pounds), and compresses into a compact package 1.3 meters (50 inches) diameter by 3.8 meters (150 inches) for launch.
Solar power is derived from two wings of four panels each with dual-junction gallium arsenide solar cells. In orbit, the satellite measures 34.5 meters (113 feet) in length and 17 meters (55.7 feet) in width, and will weigh 3200 kilograms (7056 pounds.) Thuraya-1 will operate from a geosynchronous orbital slot of 44 degrees East longitude.
BSS is the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial communications satellites. The company was formed in October 2000 when Boeing acquired the Hughes Electronics satellite manufacturing companies, which included Hughes Space and Communications Company, Hughes Electron Dynamics, Spectrolab, Inc., and Hughes Electronics’ share of the HRL research facilities in Malibu, California.
The Boeing Company, headquartered in Seattle, is the largest aerospace company in the world and the United States’ leading exporter. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft, and the largest NASA contractor. The company’s capabilities in aerospace also include rotorcraft, electronic and defense systems, missiles, rocket engines, launch vehicles, and advanced information and communication systems. The company has an extensive global reach with customers in 145 countries and manufacturing operations throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. At year-end 1999, Boeing and its subsidiaries employed 197,100 people