In the 1990s, Orbital conceived a network of micro satellites weighing less than 100 pounds that would circle the globe in Low-Earth Orbit to provide low bandwidth communications. Using low cost communications devices, customers could send text messages anywhere on Earth or monitor far flung, remote assets like oil pipelines, shipping containers or rail cars.
From 1994 to 1999 Orbital designed, built, and launched 35 MicroStar satellites, built five sets of gateway ground stations and a network operations center to establish the first global low Earth orbit satellite communications network. Today 30 satellites continue to provide robust service ranging between five and 10 years beyond their original design lives.
In 2007, Orbital will deliver six communications payloads for ORBCOMM Inc.’s “quick launch” satellites to replenish its satellite fleet.
Orbit: Approx 200 km in 6 orbital planes
Frequency: Dual VHF and UHF communications payload
Antenna: 3.5. meter quadrifilar helix
Stabilization: 3-axis wheel-augmented gravity gradient/magnetic ACS; cold gas propellant/differential drag stationkeeping
Launch Mass: 42 kg (92 lb.)
Mission Life: 5 years
Network providing global data communications service
Coverage: Entire Earth
Mission: First Global Low Earth Orbit Satellite Communications Network.