Low Earth orbit communications satellite
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A current thrust in satellite communication systems considers a low-Earth orbiting constellations of satellites for continuous global coverage. Conceptual design studies have been done at the time of this design project by LORAL Aerospace Corporation under the program name GLOBALSTAR and by Motorola under their IRIDIUM program. This design project concentrates on the spacecraft design of the GLOBALSTAR low-Earth orbiting communication system. Overview information on the program was gained through the Federal Communications Commission licensing request. The GLOBALSTAR system consists of 48 operational satellites positioned in a Walker Delta pattern providing global coverage and redundancy. The operational orbit is 1389 km (750 nmi) altitude with eight planes of six satellites each. The orbital planes are spaced 45 deg., and the spacecraft are separated by 60 deg. within the plane. A Delta 2 launch vehicle is used to carry six spacecraft for orbit establishment. Once in orbit, the spacecraft will utilize code-division multiple access (spread spectrum modulation) for digital relay, voice, and radio determination satellite services (RDSS) yielding position determination with accuracy up to 200 meters.
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